Over 60 million Americans get heartburn at least once a month. Despite its name, this burning sensation in the chest doesn’t have anything to do with the heart — it’s actually a digestive problem.
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, a condition that occurs when the acid in your stomach travels backward into your esophagus. Acid reflux is common, particularly after eating rich or spicy foods.
But if you consistently experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is the chronic, more severe form of acid reflux and it affects an estimated 20% of Americans.
GERD often brings burning chest pain, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, and many other bothersome symptoms. The good news is that there are a range of treatments available to reduce stomach acid and minimize your symptoms.
Brian Prebil, DO, Rachel Alt, MD, and our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery offer top treatments for GERD, including minimally invasive surgery, to permanently eliminate your symptoms.
Lifestyle changes to improve GERD
Acid reflux and GERD are digestive problems, so we may start by recommending lifestyle changes to reduce your symptoms. Avoiding foods that are high in fat and acid can help reduce acid reflux.
Consider eating smaller meals more frequently and consciously eat food slowly. If you’re bothered by GERD at night, don’t eat anything in the 2-3 hours leading up to bedtime to give your stomach time to digest.
If you smoke, quitting can make a big difference in reducing GERD symptoms. Being overweight or obese can also worsen symptoms, so working toward a healthy weight could improve your symptoms, too.
Medication options for GERD
Lots of medications for GERD are available over the counter and by prescription.
Mild or occasional acid reflux can be managed with over-the-counter options like antacids. Antacids neutralize acid in your esophagus, but these medications don’t relieve inflammation.
If you take over-the-counter medications more than a few times a week, talk to us about prescription medication for GERD. H2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors are two medications that reduce acid production in your stomach to minimize GERD symptoms.
Surgery to eliminate GERD
Lifestyle changes and medication can suppress stomach acid and may be effective for people with mild to moderate GERD. But if GERD symptoms interfere with your quality of life, surgery could be a good treatment option for you.
Laparoscopic fundoplication surgery
At the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, our doctors specialize in laparoscopic fundoplication, which is the most common type of surgery to treat GERD.
Fundoplication is a procedure that reinforces your esophageal valve to keep stomach acid in your stomach, instead of in your esophagus.
Minimally invasive hernia repair surgery
Sometimes, hiatal hernia causes GERD. A hiatal hernia forms when your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm, and it can force acid into your esophagus. If you have a hiatal hernia, fixing it could reduce your GERD symptoms.
Our doctors regularly perform minimally invasive hernia repair, which involves repositioning your stomach and strengthening your diaphragm. Surgery helps keep stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus.
If you’re living with GERD, it’s time to find out more about the top treatments available. Schedule a consultation with our team by calling the office in Peoria, Arizona, or send us a message online today.