When you eat or drink, food and beverages travel to your stomach through a tube known as your esophagus. Once they arrive in your stomach, food and liquid mix with highly acidic digestive juices that break them down.
After you eat, food and drink are supposed to stay in your stomach. But when you have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the contents of your stomach flow back up into your esophagus, a process known as reflux.
This flow of very acidic stomach contents (regurgitation) can cause annoying symptoms as well as damage to your esophagus.
If you have GERD, you're not alone. It is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases, affecting about 1 in 5 Americans.
GERD is more than just an inconvenience. It is a serious medical condition that you should not ignore. That's where we come in. Our caring providers at Peachtree Surgical & Bariatrics are experts at diagnosing and treating GERD.
We want to make sure you understand this condition. Here, we share important information with you about some of the ways that GERD can negatively impact your life and what you can do if you're struggling with reflux.
Reflux can lead to a painful sensation in your chest beneath your breastbone. This pain, known as heartburn, can be quite severe. Although everyone has heartburn occasionally, frequent heartburn (twice a week or more) is a sign of GERD.
Pain from reflux can be so severe that when it strikes, you may think you're having a heart attack.
Damage to your esophagus
Frequent reflux can cause stomach acid to eat away at the lining of your esophagus. Over time, this damage can cause precancerous changes to the lining of your esophagus, a condition known as Barrett's esophagus. Having Barrett's esophagus increases your chances of developing esophageal cancer.
In some cases, people with GERD see blood in their bowel movements (which appears as a black, tarry stool) or in their vomit. If you experience this type of bleeding, call us right away.
GERD can make it hard to swallow food or beverages. And even when you can swallow successfully, you may have a sensation that food or drinks are getting stuck in your throat or your chest.
Having GERD can also cause sensations in your windpipe that make it harder for you to breathe. You may cough frequently or develop a hoarseness to your voice as acid causes your throat to become sore.
In some cases, GERD can cause nausea, vomiting, and other GI symptoms, along with a loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
Taking care of your reflux
Treatment for GERD begins with lifestyle changes and medication. If those don't help, we may recommend reflux surgery.
Here at Peachtree Surgical & Bariatrics, we perform minimally invasive laparoscopic reflux surgery in our ambulatory surgery center in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Georgia. For most of our patients, this is a same-day procedure that requires no hospitalization.
Typically, reflux surgery uses a procedure known as fundoplication. With this type of procedure, we begin by repairing any structural abnormalities you may have, such as a hiatal hernia. Then we use tissue from your stomach to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the flap of tissue that stops stomach contents from entering your esophagus.
A newer procedure, called the "Linx" procedure applies a tiny flexible magnetic necklace around the esophagus. This latest technique allows food to pass normally but then closes the spincter and prevents acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
Reflux surgery is a safe, effective way to reduce or eliminate GERD long-term.
If you have reflux and are obese, we may recommend weight loss or bariatric surgery. Excess fat, especially in your belly, chest, or neck, increases the likelihood of reflux.
Have your reflux checked
We’re here to help you with GERD and to create a personalized treatment plan designed to address your symptoms and protect your long-term health.
To schedule an evaluation, contact us today to request an appointment.