In case you suffer from a moderate to severe heartburn also called acid reflux, you must seek medical help immediately. Your doctor will first try to manage the symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes and even recommend some over the counter medications. But if these things do not relieve you of the condition, then he might ask you to undergo surgery as an acid reflux cure.
There are plenty of surgery options for treating your condition of acid reflux which technically is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These include:
- Stretta ( non surgical option)
- Fundoplication (Laparoscopic Anti-reflux Surgery)
- Laparoscopic gastric bypass – if chronic GERD associated with obesity – it benefits both obesity as well as GERD
Acid reflux disease
When you feel a harsh, burning sensation in the area between your ribs or just below your neck, then this condition is called heartburn or acid reflux. In medical terms, this condition can be called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stomach acids reflux or “back up” from the stomach into the oesophagus during this condition.
The lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscles at the entrance of the stomach. It closes as soon as the food passes through the oesophagus. When this valve doesn’t close at all or opens too often, the stomach acid may move up through the oesophagus. Heartburn is often a related symptom.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Hiatal hernia is a common cause of acid reflux. This happens when the upper part of the stomach and LES bulges out to the diaphragm. It is the diaphragm that helps to keep acid in the stomach. But in the case of hiatal hernia, the acids can move up through the oesophagus and cause acid reflux.
Some other causes for the disease include:
- Eating plenty or lying down immediately after eating.
- Bedtime snacking
- Consuming an abundance of citrus foods, tomato, mint, chocolate, garlic, onions, or spicy as well as fatty foods
- Drinking excess of beverages, like alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
- Consumption of painkillers like ibuprofen, muscle relaxant or blood pressure medications.
Common symptoms of Acid Reflux
- Heartburn is one of the most common of all acid reflux symptoms. It is a burning sensation or discomfort in your stomach that may move up to your abdomen or chest and may even move to your throat.
- Regurgitation: an acid back up into your throat or mouth that is either sour or bitter-tasting.
A few other symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Bloating and burping
- Blood in stool and vomiting
- A sensation that the food is stuck in your throat called dysphagia.
- Nausea and hiccups
- Unreasonable weight loss
- Dry cough and hoarseness
- Sore throat
In case you notice acid reflux, symptoms persisting for more than 2 weeks and if your prescribed medications don’t bring relief, then you must contact your physician immediately. He/she might ask you to take one or more of the following lab tests:
- Barium swallow: this will let the doctor know in case of narrowing of the oesophagus and check for an ulcer.
- Oesophageal manometry: this will let the doctor monitor the function and movement of the oesophagus and LES.
- Endoscopy: done with the help of laparoscope, it helps the doctor to see for problems in your oesophagus or stomach.
Your doctor will ask you to go under the knife if your symptoms persist even after dietary changes and medications in case of hiatus hernia. Surgery can also be considered to avoid long-term medications. The various surgical options include:
- Traditional Anti-reflux Surgery: an open or traditional way of surgery is done to correct the hernia. Done through laparoscope( key hole surgery)
- Fundoplication (Laparoscopic Anti-reflux Surgery): in this several small incisions are made in your stomach to introduce the laparoscope and the several miniaturized instruments. This surgery tightens and reinforces the LES to function smoothly and prevent acid backflow.
- Stretta Procedure: this is usually performed in an outpatient way by using an endoscope. The heated end of the endoscope creates tiny cuts in your oesophageal tissue forming scar tissue. This blocks the nerves that respond to refluxed acid and strengthen the surrounding muscles.
Traditional surgery requires a week-long stay in the hospital and a nasogastric tube is placed through your nose and into your stomach to remove air and digestive juices from the stomach.
While in the minimally invasive fundoplication and stretta procedure is less painful and requires a short hospital stay of not more than 3 days. Plus, there is less scarring and no need for the nasogastric tube.