Acid Reflux: What Patients Need to Know

If you suffer from acid reflux, contact Dr. Jeffrey Snow. Dr. Snow is a board-certified general and colorectal surgeon and is highly experienced in treating acid reflux in all types of patients. In this article, we will review some of the basic causes, symptoms, and treatments for acid reflux.

Acid Reflux: What Patients Need to Know

If you have acid reflux, you know how difficult it can be to live with symptoms. You might also find it challenging to find effective treatments for your acid reflux. According to a Cedars-Sinai national study, nearly one-third of Americans suffer from acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), on a weekly basis.

What is Acid Reflux?

To understand gastroesophageal reflux disease, you first need to understand what it is. Gastroesophageal reflux (occasionally referred to as “acid reflux” or GERD) occurs when fluid from the stomach flows becomes backed up from the stomach, and digestion begins in the esophagus. The valve located at the bottom of the esophagus and the top of the stomach does not close properly, causing extreme pain and increasing the chances of a bleeding ulcer. Symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, bloody stool or vomiting, and weight loss.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

Some of the most common risk factors for acid reflux disease include:

How is Acid Reflux Disease Diagnosed?

Do you suffer from acid reflux symptoms more than two times a week? Do you take antiacid medications more frequently than recommended without getting long-term relief? If so, it’s time to see your doctor.

It’s important to note that lifestyle changes, including reducing acidic foods, refraining from eating large meals, and avoiding snacks before bedtime may help address your reflux. However, if you still suffer from symptoms after trying these changes, your doctor may need to run a series of tests. These include:

  • Esophagram: checks for ulcers or a narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal manometry: is used to check the function and movement of the esophagus, as well as the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • pH monitoring: check for acid in your esophagus.
  • Endoscopy: can determine whether a patient has issues in their esophagus or stomach.
  • Biopsy: a biopsy is sometimes taken during an endoscopy to check samples of tissue under a microscope for infection or abnormalities.

Regardless of whether you need testing, you need to consider seeing a doctor if you cannot control the symptoms on your own. Time is not your friend when it comes to the erosion of the esophagus. Testing should be considered if the symptoms cause you to suffer daily and you have had symptoms for six months or more. Prioritizing your time for treatment now can save you an inpatient trip to the hospital later.

How is Acid Reflux Treated?

Below, we’ll review three of the most common ways that acid reflux is treated.

  1. Acid reflux can be treated with a lifestyle change: such as quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising, wearing loose clothing, and even eating smaller, more frequent meals.
  2. Proton pump inhibitors (including omeprazole, lansoprazole, dexlansoprazole, pantoprazole, esomeprazole, and rabeprazole) are some of the most effective ways to address the symptoms of acid reflux symptoms. These medications act by blocking the final step of acid production in the stomach and are typically taken once or twice daily before meals. However, this type of medication is only prescribed for short-term use.
  3. In general, surgery is a last resort for acid reflux patients. Therefore, a surgical intervention is typically only appropriate for those patients with well-documented reflux disease or (GERD) who cannot tolerate medications. If a patient’s reflux symptoms are caused by a hiatal hernia (and can’t be managed with medications), fundoplication surgery may be a good solution. Fundoplication surgery involves a surgeon wrapping the upper curve of the stomach (the fundus) around the esophagus. The fundus is then sewn into place, allowing the lower part of the esophagus to pass through a small tunnel of the stomach. Fundoplication surgery reinforces the valve between the esophagus and stomach, which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily—allowing the esophagus to heal. Laparoscopy is usually the method that is most common for this surgery. If you get a laparoscopic procedure, you will most likely be in the hospital for only 2 to 3 days. In addition, laparoscopic procedures typically cause less pain after surgery. This is because, unlike with other procedures, there isn’t a sizable incision to heal. After laparoscopic surgery, most patients can go back to work or their routine in about 2 to 3 weeks, depending on their work.

Dr. Jeffrey Snow is a board-certified general and colorectal surgeon. He has spent his 20+ year professional career in South Florida and has been a senior partner at Surgery Specialists of South Broward for over two decades. Dr. Snow has led several essential hospital committees over the years and held the position of Chief of Staff. In addition, Dr. Snow has been honored as one of Miami Metro Magazine’s Best Doctors in South Florida four years in a row. He has also been named one of America’s Top Surgeons three years in a row.

If you have experienced unexplained weight loss, trouble swallowing, or internal bleeding related to acid reflux, you should contact Dr. Snow immediately. You should also schedule a visit if a lifestyle change is not helping with your symptoms. Schedule your appointment today by calling (954) 237-1123 or visiting our website https://jeffreysnowmd.com to make a virtual or in-person appointment.

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