When GERD is the Word – What to Consider when Diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Many people experience acid reflux from time to time – that feeling commonly thought of as heartburn or acid indigestion. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. While most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
  • Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week

When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach. Then the sphincter closes again.

If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.

Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include:

  • Obesity
  • Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • Pregnancy
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • Delayed stomach emptying

Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating large meals or eating late at night
  • Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods
  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee
  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

Your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. If you don’t experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.

The options include:

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid 
  • Medications to reduce acid production known as H-2-receptor blockers
  • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus known as proton pump inhibitors
  • Medication that helps strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. 

GERD can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, but if these don’t help or you wish to avoid long-term medication use, consider the revolutionary LINX device. This device consists of a ring of tiny magnetic beads which is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through when swallowing. The LINX device can be implanted using minimally invasive surgery.

As the first LINX-trained surgeons in Las Vegas and as the first digestive institute in the area to offer the only FDA-approved treatment for GERD, Dr. Shawn Tsuda and Dr. Heidi Ryan at VIPSurg are ready to help you fight back against gastroesophageal reflux disease. Call  702-487-6000 to schedule an appointment. 

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Pregnancy after Bariatric Surgery: Proper Nutrition is Key

prengnancyStatistics show that nearly 80% of women who undergo bariatric surgery are of childbearing age. We also know that these surgeries work by either restricting calories or malabsorption. Restrictive surgery reduces the stomach size and physically limits the amount of food the stomach can hold, which limits the number of calories one can eat. An example of this type of procedure is adjustable banding. Malabsorptive surgery combines stomach restriction with a partial bypass of the small intestine. In these procedures, a direct connection is created from the stomach to the lower segment of the small intestine, bypassing portions of the digestive tract that absorb calories and nutrients.

While women should always be concerned with getting proper nutrition, it is never more important than when pregnant. Expectant mothers should try to avoid ingesting things that could harm the fetus, and they should also be diligent about trying to consume enough of the nutrients that a healthy, developing embryo needs. Nutritional needs do differ based on many factors, including what type of bariatric surgery you have. For example, gastric banding or gastric bypass pose minimal, if any, risks for nutrient problems if the mom-to-be adheres to her surgeon’s advice; however, about 20 percent of pregnant women who undergo biliopancreatic diversion may need to be feed intravenously while pregnant to make sure they receive the proper nutrition.

Generally, all pregnant women need the same nutrients to sustain a healthy pregnancy. If you become pregnant after weight-loss surgery, let your ob/gyn know what kind of surgery you had, and keep your bariatric surgeon in the loop as well.

Dr. Shawn Tsuda and his experienced team can help you understand your specific nutritional needs after whatever bariatric procedure you have if you become pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.

Read more online at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901983/