What Is Acid Reflux and How Do You Treat It?

Feelings of discomfort right after eating or at night can be a sign that your body’s gastric (stomach) acid is moving upward from the stomach – where it is meant to stay to break down food for easier digestion – and making its way to your throat. When this occurs, it is often referred to as acid reflux and can affect individuals in various ways with mild to severe symptoms. Below, our bariatric surgeon in Alexandria, James Parrish, MD, explains what to know about acid reflux and some of the most effective ways to treat it.

Acid reflux, medically referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), is an extremely common condition in which stomach acid repeatedly rises into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth/throat to the stomach). This can cause numerous symptoms, such as:

  • The feeling that there is a lump in the throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Food or acid regurgitation
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • New or worsening case of asthma
  • Trouble sleeping

Some individuals experience occasional GERD that can be managed well with over-the-counter or prescription medications. However, those who suffer from chronic GERD symptoms at least once or twice each week should be evaluated by a specialist as the disorder may lead to significant damage if left untreated. Fortunately, there are surgical methods available that can not only help to treat the symptoms but also work to prevent acid reflux from occurring:

Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication

Using a minimally invasive technique, the Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication is designed to wrap a portion of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus to prevent the gastric acids from entering the esophagus. Performing this surgery with a laparoscope (a thin, telescopic rod with a camera at the end) allows for very small incisions rather than an open abdominal surgical cut, which can help minimize scarring and shorten recovery time.

The LINX® Reflux Management System

Also performed laparoscopically, the innovative LINX® Reflux Management System implants a flexible band composed of magnetic titanium beads (the LINX® device) around the lower esophageal sphincter. The purpose of the band is to enhance the resistance level of the lower esophagus to keep gastric acids out while still allowing food into the stomach.

Hiatal Hernia Repair

In some cases, acid reflux can be triggered by a hiatal hernia. Essentially, the opening of the stomach valve and the esophageal sphincter move above the diaphragm and cause the stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. When this occurs, a Hiatal Hernia Repair can often be performed with a Nissen Fundoplication or LINX® device implant to resolve the issue.

Dr. Parrish is highly experienced in diagnosing patients with GERD and performing corrective procedures that can provide life-changing results. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Parrish, contact us today.