Imagine a volcano erupting from your stomach into your throat. It’s not enjoyable. Unfortunately, many with acid reflux disease know this feeling all too well. When the lower esophageal valve doesn’t tighten enough, acid goes from the stomach into the esophagus. This may cause heartburn or a burning sensation in the throat and chest. This may even cause a severe coughing spell, especially at nighttime. Some patients wake up in the middle of night with a severe cough and burning sensation in their throat.
Reflux is a common condition caused by acid that escapes from the stomach. It is estimated that 10% to 15% of adults suffer from reflux every day. Symptoms include:
- A burning feeling in the chest
- Frequent belching
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Worsening of symptoms when bending over or lying down
- Chronic cough and/or hoarseness
Although many people think acid reflux is the same as gastrointestinal reflux, commonly known as GERD, they are separate. Acid reflux can progress to GERD, a more serious issue. Your physician has multiple options to make a diagnosis, include endoscopy and esophageal reflux testing. Those tests are very sensitive and specific to make the diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with either type of reflux, treatment options can run from diet and lifestyle management to over-the-counter prescription medications such as antacids and even surgery for specific cases.
One of the latest treatment options showing great results in decreasing reflux symptoms is an incision-less surgical treatment called EsophyX TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication) for regular heartburn. It’s a surgical procedure performed through the mouth, which reconstructs the barrier between the stomach and esophagus to prevent stomach acid fluids from refluxing up into the esophagus. Most patients return to work the next day or within a few days following the procedure. This treatment is the culmination of recent advancement in technology.
Although medical managements with antacid medications are effective for symptomatic control, the anatomical reasons for the reflux are not addressed. Knowing that more long-term side effects of medications are detrimental, considering simple, no-cutting TIF is a safe option to treat the condition.
Everyone is different, and your treatment options may be different too. Talk to your doctor if reflux is disrupting your life.
Learn more about Arthur Kim, MD.