What You Should Know if You’re Suffering from GERD

Recurrent acid reflux can really put a damper on your life. The constant worry about what you eat and if it'll affect you later on can be disheartening. If you have heartburn that occurs twice a week or more, you may be dealing with something called gastroesophageal reflux disease  (GERD.)

If you think you may be dealing with GERD, our physicians at Laparoscopic Surgery NW in Tacoma, Washington, have surgical options that can help you cope with reflux.

What causes GERD?

GERD is the result of acid from your stomach backing up into your esophagus. The esophagus is the long tube between your mouth and your stomach. The tissues of your esophagus are soft, and not able to handle the harsh acid that comes from your stomach. This is why you have a burning sensation in your chest with acid reflux.

At the bottom of your esophagus there’s a small valve called the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscular valve keeps the acid in your stomach from backing up. When this valve stops working, it causes symptoms such as:

The long-term effects of GERD

If your reflux symptoms are not treated, the condition can cause a severe cough in the mornings, aspiration of stomach contents into your lungs, dental problems, and even asthma symptoms.

Other issues you may face due to breakdown of the tissues of your esophagus include:

All of the above symptoms may seem scary to you, but don’t worry. There are many treatment options for GERD that will get you feeling back to yourself in no time.

Lifestyle tips for easing your symptoms

There are many things you can do at home to help lessen the pain of reflux. Elevating the head of your bed may help alleviate some of the symptoms if you suffer from GERD at night.

Another thing you can do is eat your food in small bites and make sure you chew it thoroughly. Also, try to avoid foods that trigger your reflux. Common foods that can increase your symptoms include:

Something else you can do to avoid reflux symptoms is to not lie down for 2-3 hours after eating a meal. This can greatly decrease acid-related problems.

Available treatment options for GERD

After our doctors diagnose you with GERD, there are several treatment options available. Initial treatment is conservative and involves either over-the-counter medications or prescription medications such as H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors.

If medications are unsuccessful in managing your reflux symptoms, our doctors may suggest surgical intervention. One of the most common surgical procedures for the treatment of GERD is called a Nissen fundoplication.

The Nissen fundoplication procedure involves strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent acid from backing up. This is done by wrapping a small portion of the stomach around the bottom part of the esophagus. In most cases, our surgeons are able to perform this procedure laparoscopically, reducing incisions and recovery time.

After surgery, you follow a liquid diet for a day or two and then progress to soft foods. We’ll give you further dietary instructions about when you can return to eating normal foods.

Most patients who have this surgery are permanently cured of GERD with no recurrence of symptoms.

If you’ve been suffering from GERD for too long and are ready to discuss treatment options, call our office today at 253-234-1586 to book an appointment with one of our expert surgeons or book a consultation online.

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