Symptoms, Complications and Treatments
Acid Reflux Symptoms
There are a variety of acid reflux symptoms. The most common is heartburn. Other symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Clearing of the throat
- Tooth enamel decay
- Sleep disruption
Acid Reflux Complications
When left untreated, GERD or acid reflux can lead to potentially serious complications, including:
- Esophagitis (inflammation, irritation or swelling of the esophagus)
- Stricture (narrowing of the esophagus)
- Barrett’s esophagus (precancerous changes to the esophagus)
- Esophageal cancer
- Pulmonary fibrosis
The team at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South can provide acid reflux treatment options that include:
LINX is a small, flexible band of magnets enclosed in titanium beads and connected with titanium wires. The magnetic force between the beads helps keep a weak LES closed to prevent reflux. Swallowing forces temporarily break the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to move into the stomach. The magnetic force closes the LES after swallowing, to reinforce the body’s natural barrier to reflux. The LINX band is placed around the esophagus just above the stomach using a minimally invasive technique called laparoscopy. Patients are under general anesthesia during the procedure, which is generally completed in less than an hour. Once implanted, the device begins working immediately.
TIF stands for transoral incisionless fundoplication. Performed through the mouth without external incisions, the TIF procedure uses an anatomical change to correct the underlying cause of GERD. Studies show that for up to three years after the safe and effective TIF procedure, esophageal inflammation (esophagitis) is eliminated and most patients can stop taking medications to control symptoms. The TIF procedure may not be appropriate for your condition; your doctor can explain the benefits and risks and results may vary.
• Nissen fundoplication
Nissen fundoplication is a laparoscopic surgery, using five small incisions, that folds the top of the stomach around the lower esophagus. This creates a lower esophageal acid barrier and can restore the normal function of the gastroesophageal junction. If a patient has a hiatal hernia, it can be repaired at the same time.
Medication for Reflux
Treating acid reflux with medication can be effective for those who suffer from various levels of acid reflux; however, many medications require long-term use to prevent a relapse in symptoms. Typical options include antacids to neutralize stomach acid, and medications such as H2 blockers that reduce acid production for short periods of time and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that reduce acid production for long periods of time.
Medications that reduce or block stomach acid provide long-lasting relief, but some patients require increasing doses for the same level of relief. Additionally, as with many strong medications, PPIs have been shown to have side effects including osteoporosis, vitamin B12 deficiency, PPI-associated pneumonia, colitis, dementia and chronic kidney disease. Talk with your doctor to find the best course of treatment for you.