Ask an Expert About Heartburn and GERD

Posted on Mar 27, 2015

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Wilson S. Tsai, M.D.

Medical director of esophageal and thoracic surgery

Sutter Health’s Eden Medical Center

Q: I take medication for my heartburn, but lately it isn’t as effective. Why do I keep getting heartburn and what else can I do to relieve the symptoms?

A: Imagine a room in your house is on fire and the alarm goes off, but instead of calling 911, you remove the batteries from the annoying alarm.

Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who take medication to ease heartburn are essentially shutting down their bodies’ alarm system.

Drugs work great for symptom control, to decrease acidity in the stomach. But in many patients, they mask the real problem.

Serious complications can develop, from osteoporosis as a side-effect of long-term medication use to esophageal cancer, which is a growing epidemic in the United States.

GERD is a disease of anatomy. It’s important to have a full work-up from an esophageal specialist. That includes endoscopy, biopsy, measurement of the volume of reflux and an internal pressure test.

Depending on the results, surgery may be an option. Implantation of a LINX® magnetic ring is a minimally invasive surgery I often perform. The ring is designed to augment the weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to help prevent acid and bile reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.

How LINX® works

  • A small, flexible band of magnets is enclosed in titanium beads. Titanium wires connect the beads.
  • The magnetic attraction between the beads is designed to help keep the weak LES closed to prevent reflux.
  • The movement of swallowing temporarily breaks the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass into the stomach.
  • Magnetic attraction closes the LES after swallowing to reinforce the body’s natural barrier to reflux.

Signs of GERD

 

You may be suffering from GERD if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Trouble swallowing starchy foods, which stick in the esophagus, turning into sticky goo that traps other food.
  • Painful esophageal spasms that can mimic a heart attack.
  • Abdominal pain while exercising; workouts can put pressure on the abdomen, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Occasional difficulty breathing. Reflux can be breathed into the lungs.

 

Click here to learn more about GERD and LINX®.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *