Acid Reflux is a common health complaint, typically causing mild to moderate temporary discomfort. It affects everyone to some degree, though some are more at risk of developing a more severe form of the condition than others.
While in most cases it is completely harmless, acid reflux can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Although GERD is fairly common, if not treated this can lead to more serious health complications.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition that causes stomach acid, and sometimes partially digested food, back up from the stomach into the oesophagus. This occurs when the muscular ring at the bottom of the oesophagus (lower oesophageal sphincter), doesn’t close properly, allowing your stomach contents to leak upward.
Symptoms can include:
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
These symptoms can be mild or severe and can occur frequently or occasionally.
When might acid reflux be a problem?
Although acid reflux can cause temporary discomfort, it isn’t usually anything to worry about. However, it can become a problem if it develops into chronic acid reflux, or GERD.
Over time, chronic acid reflux can cause damage to the lining of the oesophagus, leading to complications such as inflammation, ulcers, scarring, and a higher risk of developing oesophageal cancer.
It can also cause dental issues due to the teeth being constantly exposed to acid. In some cases, you may find it hard to breathe. If acid reflux is impacting your daily life and causing any of the symptoms mentioned above, there are treatment options available.
Most people who suffer with acid reflux won’t need any significant treatment. The problem will typically clear up quickly.
Treatment mostly involves lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods, losing weight, and elevating the head of the bed. There are also medications that can help to reduce the production of stomach acid or neutralise it. However, in severe cases, surgery might be needed.
Surgery for acid reflux involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach (the fundus) around the lower part of the oesophagus. This helps to reinforce the lower oesophageal sphincter, preventing stomach acid from flowing back up into the oesophagus.
The procedure is carried out laparoscopically and has a high success rate. It is carried out when simple lifestyle changes and medications haven’t worked. It can also be a good treatment option for those suffering with complications caused by GERD.
If you are suffering with persistent acid reflux and it is impacting your quality of life, book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today. He will discuss with you the treatment options, including surgery if this is suitable.