Occasional heartburn or indigestion, known as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux (GERD) is very common. It can occur as a result of eating the wrong foods at the wrong time and many other reasons as well. This can be loosely classified as when they experience acid reflux at least twice a week for several weeks.
Acid reflux, which includes heartburn symptoms, can be very painful and in some cases debilitating. Further, this disease can have serious follow-up effects such as erosion of the esophageal lining and ultimately an increased chance of esophageal cancer. If you experience any tightening of the chest or chest pain, contact emergency medical help – dial 911 – right away.
Non-Surgical Treatment for GERD
The initial treatment for acid reflux is often lifestyle change. There are many elective lifestyle factors that can reduce the incidence of acid reflux. These include:
- Losing weight
- Avoiding spicy and fatty foods
- Sleeping on an incline
- Wearing looser clothes
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
- Eat at least three hours before bedtime
The first course of medical treatment is often medication, which includes proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers. These medications are often effective in the short-term, however, they do not address the underlying condition of a faulty lower esophageal sphincter.
Some cases of GERD do not respond to non-invasive treatments or medication. A more permanent option for the elimination or improvement of acid reflux is surgery. While more invasive than medication, surgery is long-lasting, so the erosion of the esophagus can be halted and damage can start to be reversed.
Surgical Treatment for GERD
For those who have not seen relief from medication, or whose GERD is progressively worsening, surgery may be ideal. Surgery eliminates the potential of medication side-effects and it is a one-time solution.
Acid reflux surgery is most often performed in a laparoscopic manner, meaning that patients will usually experience reduced pain, faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay.
Endoscopic procedures – performed through the mouth rather than the skin – to repair the cause of GERD can also be employed with great success. However, minimally invasive reflux surgery is not appropriate for every patient and does have risks similar to other surgical procedures.
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