Heartburn is uncomfortable, but it’s also usually quite temporary. In most cases, the cause is something you ate: a spicy burrito or an extra rich coffee, for example. But what if you experience that burning, corrosive sensation in your throat and chest with every meal? Imagine how those same symptoms could progress from slightly annoying to utterly devastating.
Repeated heartburn like this is usually an indication of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. While the chronic Acid Reflux symptoms of GERD can be quite uncomfortable, there are treatments available, including a procedure called LINX.
So if you’re tired of feeling that lump in your throat almost every night (and knowing it’s regurgitated food)–relief could be just a doctor’s visit away.
What Causes GERD?
Acid reflux treatment at Yankton Medical Clinic will usually depend on the severity of your symptoms. GERD is a form of especially severe acid reflux, caused by weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle is like a valve on your esophagus–opening to allow the passage of swallowed food, but staying closed otherwise so as to avoid backwash from your stomach.
For a wide variety of reasons, the lower esophageal sphincter can sometimes become weakened. In such cases, backwash from your stomach more often finds its way up into your esophagus, throat, or mouth.
What Are the Symptoms of GERD?
The symptoms of GERD can seem somewhat innocuous if you don’t think about them too hard. We’ve all had heartburn before, can GERD really be all that different? Unfortunately, GERD is much more severe than everyday heartburn.
The symptoms of GERD include the following:
- Repeated experiences of heartburn. People with GERD will typically experience heartburn symptoms at least twice a week.
- Trouble sleeping. (Your heartburn may often be worse at night, and this could keep you awake.)
- Feeling like you have a lump stuck in your throat.
- Trouble swallowing.
- The development of related health problems, like worsening asthma symptoms or laryngitis.
- Chest pain or a burning sensation in the chest.
- Frequent regurgitation of food.
- Repeated or chronic coughing.
- Regurgitating liquid (usually it will taste sour)
Over time, GERD can even cause the development of ulcers or put you at a higher risk for developing esophageal cancer. It’s important for patients to start doing those “acid reflux treatment near me” searches well before this point.
For many people, these symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, disrupting their everyday life. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, you should speak with your physician about managing GERD symptoms and how best to treat this condition.
How to Achieve GERD Relief
The primary goal of any patient with GERD is pretty simple: relief. There are three basic ways that you and your physician might try to manage GERD symptoms.
Lifestyle and Behavior Changes
There are some foods that can make your stomach act up and others that might calm it down. That’s why many physicians will recommend several lifestyle changes that may help you manage GERD-related discomfort. Those changes might include:
- Changing your diet to avoid “trigger” foods. These are foods that stimulate a particularly potent presentation of symptoms. Trigger foods will be different for everyone, but they often include something like spicy foods or coffee.
- Keep your head elevated while you’re sleeping.
- Avoid laying down for two hours after you’ve eaten.
- Losing weight.
- Eating smaller meals more frequently.
- Quitting smoking. (Smoking can weaken the esophageal sphincter, the valve muscle at the root cause of your GERD).
The second way to find relief is to manage the symptoms of GERD. To manage your symptoms, your physician may prescribe medication to relieve pain or lower the acidity of your stomach acid. Those treatments might include:
- Antacids: You’re probably used to taking these when you have run-of-the-mill heartburn. They can help with GERD too, they neutralize the stomach acid. If you have GERD, however, you may be taking antacids quite frequently.
- H-2 Receptor Blockers: These medications, available in over-the-counter and prescription strengths, will provide longer-lasting relief by blocking acid production in the stomach. With a smaller reservoir of stomach acid to begin with, less of the caustic liquid will make its way up to your esophagus.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors: These medications do the same basic thing as H-2 Receptor blockers, but they’re much more powerful. This can help give the esophagus time to heal if your GERD has already caused some physical damage.
Treating the Root Cause
There are treatments available that are designed to address the root cause of GERD symptoms. One of the most popular treatments is a procedure called LINX, a remarkably effective treatment system that dramatically diminishes the symptoms of GERD.
LINX Treatments for GERD
For those with severe or prolonged GERD, the LINX procedure can be performed to help patients find permanent relief. The most popular way to treat the root cause of GERD is a procedure called LINX Treatment. The LINX procedure is minimally invasive while also providing long-lasting relief.
Here’s how it works: a surgeon will insert a small ring around the top of your stomach (in that same location as your malfunctioning valve muscle–the esophageal sphincter). This ring uses magnets to stay closed. The magnets are weak enough to allow food to pass down but strong enough to stop anything from coming back up.
Treatment for GERD with the LINX procedure is available right here at the Yankton Medical Clinic, in Yankton, South Dakota.
What is the Pre-Procedure for LINX?
Many patients have questions about our Acid Reflux pre-procedure, but it’s pretty straightforward. Before your LINX procedure occurs:
- Your doctor will evaluate your suitability for the procedure.
- You’ll be asked to refrain from smoking for up to two weeks before the procedure.
- You will be instructed to avoid eating or drinking anything before your procedure (your physician will let you know precisely how long to abstain).
The Linx Procedure and Results
During your LINX procedure, a surgeon will place a small magnetic ring around your lower esophageal sphincter.
Placing the LINX system is performed on an outpatient basis, so you’ll be back at home the same day. Most people who are treated with the LINX system will:
- Notice significant relief in symptoms
- Be able to cut back on GERD-related medications (or stop taking them entirely)
- Be able to sleep through the night without any unpleasant heartburn or GERD symptoms
- Not be required to change their diet–you can continue to eat the foods you like
- Enjoy the complete elimination of severe regurgitation
Generally, patients can resume most normal activities a few days after their LINX surgery–though they should avoid heavy abdominal strain for at least a few weeks.
LINX is a game-changer, in large part because treatment for GERD used to focus on symptoms. Now, GERD and Acid Reflux treatment in Yankton has another alternative–one that addresses the source of the problem.
GERD is one of those conditions that doesn’t seem all that serious at first, but the nature and frequency of symptoms can make the condition quite uncomfortable. Food is generally a source of great comfort for people; chronic Acid Reflux caused by GERD can sour that comfort considerably.
LINX treatments allow you to find that comfort again–and the significant relief that comes with putting your GERD behind you.
Contact our Yankton, SD office today to find out more about LINX–and finally, get relief from GERD.