You settle into bed, making sure you’re propped up on a few pillows. You’ve gobbled some chewable antacid tabs and placed the bottle on your nightstand, along with ice water. As you settle in for a good night’s sleep, it begins. That roiling, gnawing, burning feeling in your chest, or just below your throat. Then the burning acid begins to rise up. You’ve done everything to keep this from happening -- yet it happens nearly every night.
If you suffer from acid reflux several times a week, then it has become gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and you know this scene all too well. Mealtime is no fun anymore, and pain can come no matter what you eat. A spicy burrito or a bowl of applesauce produces the same gnawing, burning sensation. It’s time to do something more than pop antacids, but what?
Acid reflux explained
After a meal, the acidic gastric fluids are produced to facilitate digestion. Occasional acid reflux and chronic GERD are both caused by this stomach acid flowing up into the esophagus, causing extreme heartburn and even slight regurgitation into the throat.
Sometimes acid reflux is related to a hiatal hernia. It can also result from the overproduction of acid or a weak esophageal sphincter, which is the ring of muscle separating the esophagus from the stomach.
Lifestyle changes may help control GERD
If you’ve suffered with acid reflux or GERD for awhile, you already know your triggers. Alcohol, fatty foods, certain spices, coffee, and acidic foods such as tomato sauce, can cause your GERD to come on full-force. You can cut these foods out, along with quitting smoking, losing weight, and eating several small meals during the day. These are all good options, but not 100% foolproof.
Medications may help
There are medications that can help control your acid reflux by limiting or preventing stomach acid production. There are conflicting reports on the side effects of these medications, which are often costly and must be taken regularly.
Surgery can stop the pain of acid reflux
Here at Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery, we believe in solutions. You shouldn’t have to spend one more night losing sleep or avoiding social situations because of your acid reflux pain. There are ways to control your condition without taking acid reducers, acid blockers, or proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for the rest of your life.
Dr. David Chengelis can help you put out the fire of burning acid reflux once and for all with a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a fundoplication. Using small incisions and specialized surgical instruments, he wraps the top portion of your stomach around the bottom of your esophagus and secures it in place. Depending on your individual situation, sometimes the esophageal sphincter is tightened with a ring to help keep the acid in your stomach. If you have a hiatal hernia, Dr. Chengelis repairs it during the same procedure.
Untreated GERD can lead to serious complications
Of course, you can just do nothing about your acid reflux, and continue to live with the pain, while sleeping on four pillows a night and gobbling antacids, but untreated GERD can lead to some serious complications:
- Esophagitis is a condition in which injury to the lining of the esophagus has occurred from long-term acid erosion. You develop ulcers in your esophagus, which can lead to bleeding and symptoms such as chest pain, continual heartburn, and trouble swallowing.
- Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition that occurs when GERD causes the cells to change in the esophagus. About 10% of those with GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus.
- Strictures are a buildup of scar tissue in the esophagus, which can interfere with eating and drinking. A narrowing of the esophagus, caused by scarred and acid-damaged lining is responsible for this condition.
- Esophageal cancer is the most serious complication from GERD. In the early stages, esophageal cancer has no symptoms. As the cancer grows, the opening of the esophagus narrows, making it difficult or painful to swallow. This is typically the first symptom.
If you’re ignoring your GERD, hoping it will just go away, it won’t. Not only are you likely living in pain, you’re risking your very life.
End GERD for good
If you’re tired of being sidelined by GERD, and you don’t want to spend the rest of your life on medications, then schedule an appointment with Dr. Chengelis to discuss acid reflux surgery. Our office is convenient to the metro Detroit area in Royal Oak, Michigan. Call us or click the online button, and let us help you get back your health.