Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) / Acid Reflux
The world-class doctors at miVIP Surgery Centers provide diagnostic evaluations and minimally invasive procedures for people suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), chronic acid reflux and heartburn.
It is estimated that more than 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). One out of five Americans experience symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux or regurgitation on a weekly basis, and two out of five experience these symptoms at least once a month.
What is GERD?
When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, the condition is referred to as acid reflux or GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disease. Over time, chronic acid reflux or GERD can damage the tissue of the esophagus. The symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful, often affecting sleep, diet and overall health.
Contact miVIP today at (844) 237-5067 to learn more about minimally invasive acid reflux treatment.
Symptoms of GERD and Acid Reflux
Signs and symptoms of GERD and reflux may include:
- A burning sensation or pain in the chest
- Chronic cough, especially when lying down in bed at night
- Sore throat, hoarseness or trouble swallowing
- Discomfort or nausea after a meal or after drinking wine or coffee
- Acid taste in the mouth/reflux
Causes of GERD and Acid Reflux
Gastroesophageal disease researchers believe that acid reflux is caused by two primary factors:
- Not enough of the “good” type of stomach acid necessary for proper digestion
- A weak/malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscular valve of the upper stomach
These primary factors can lead to chronic regurgitation of stomach acids. Several other factors can increase an individual’s chances of developing acid reflux or GERD, including:
- Certain medications (pain relievers, antihistamines, etc.)
- Poor diet, including acid reflux trigger foods
- Hiatal hernia (upper stomach hernia)
- A family history of congenital abnormalities that cause acid reflux
For people battling GERD symptoms, it’s critically important to treat it before it leads to severe damage and related problems. If neglected, GERD can develop into esophagitis or Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that dramatically increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Long-term scarring of esophageal tissue can also lead to blockage or narrowing of the esophagus, making it difficult for food to pass. Another potential problem related to GERD is that stomach acids can be aspirated into the lungs, leading to lung damage and respiratory problems.
Many sufferers seek heartburn remedies or take over-the-counter antacids in an effort to relieve the pain and discomfort of acid reflux. Sometimes, making certain lifestyle adjustments can ease the symptoms. These adjustments include maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, and following a low-carbohydrate diet with strict avoidance of certain foods that trigger regurgitation. For pregnant women, reflux symptoms may subside after delivery.
When lifestyle changes or OTC medications don’t provide GERD relief, people often consult a gastroenterologist, or GI specialist, who may prescribe acid-reducing medication. The two types of medication most commonly prescribed for acid reflux are H2 Receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. These medications are not intended to be permanent solutions, yet many people end up taking them for years. Unfortunately, these acid-blocking medications negatively impact the pH level of the stomach and intestine and, over time, can lead to carbohydrate malabsorption and bacterial overgrowth, causing gas, continued reflux and other side effects.
For people seeking a long-term solution for GERD and acid reflux, and a desire to be free of acid-blocking medication and associated side effects, surgery may be the best treatment option.
GERD Diagnosis to Determine Best Treatment
GERD treatment is usually preceded by diagnostic screening to test the shape and function of the stomach and upper intestine (duodenum), and to determine contributing factors or underlying causes of the condition. If the tests determine that GERD is caused by another condition, such as a hiatal hernia, the treatment will likely involve treating that condition to help resolve symptoms.
Some diagnostic tests the miVIP physician may recommend include:
- An upper digestive tract X-ray (typically after you have swallowed a chalky liquid called Barium), which helps determine if there are problems with swallowing or other functions in the stomach and duodenum, such as delayed gastric emptying.
- An upper endoscopy, whereby the GI specialist puts the patient to sleep before inserting a thin tube equipped with a camera down the throat to inspect the esophagus and stomach for signs of inflammation or other problems. During this procedure, the doctor may collect tissue samples for further testing, and may also place a pH probe for the patient to wear overnight for monitoring and measuring stomach acid.
- A pH test, whereby the patient goes home with a tube through the nose and down the throat (esophagus) for 48 hours. This pH probe is connected to a diagnostic device that will monitor and measure the level of stomach acids and frequency of regurgitation into the esophagus.
- Esophageal manometry, whereby a flexible catheter equipped with sensors is inserted through the nose and down the throat to measure the strength and function of the muscular valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Based on results of diagnostic testing, the miVIP physician will recommend best treatment options.
Surgical Treatments for GERD
Experts at miVIP Surgery Centers provide minimally invasive and effective surgical solutions on an outpatient basis that can resolve symptoms of GERD, eliminate the need for acid-blocking medications, and reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Surgical treatments for GERD include:
LINX® Reflux Management System — This revolutionary surgical technology consists of a small, flexible band of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. The magnetism between the beads helps the bands resist opening due to gastric pressure, and prevent reflux from entering the stomach through the esophagus.
Hiatal Hernia Repair Surgery — A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest, allowing food and acid to flood the esophagus. Hiatal hernia repair surgery involves tightening the junction between the stomach and esophagus.
Nissen Fundoplication — In this increasingly common procedure, a physician wraps the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), reducing the likelihood that acid will back up into the esophagus.
Contact miVIP Surgery Centers at (844) 237-5067 to get a free insurance verification and an evaluation with one of our GI physicians. Many of our centers offer diagnostic testing all in one place so you don’t have to visit multiple locations to get a definitive diagnosis or pre-procedure work-up.
*Individual results may vary.
For additional information about GERD symptoms, causes and treatment, read this helpful article.