You've probably felt it before. It's a pain in the chest and throat that results from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as heartburn.
A recent Gallup Survey reports that 40 percent of all Americans suffer from some sort of heartburn at least once a month. These individuals suffer from chronic heartburn or what is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications may provide adequate relief of symptoms for occasional to moderate heartburn sufferers, there are over 1 million people in this country for whom no amount of medication will provide relief.
What is GERD?
GERD occurs when the muscles surrounding the valve between the esophagus and the stomach becomes weak and allows acid from the stomach to leak upward into the esophagus.
When weakened, this valve can allow stomach acid and food to surge upwards into the esophagus, causing painful heartburn and indigestion. Symptoms of the condition may include a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen, indigestion, regurgitation, difficulty sleeping after eating, hoarseness or sore throat.
For many people, symptoms can occur several times a day, particularly at night when a person lies down to go to sleep, and continue from week to week and year to year. Diet and lifestyle may also make a person more susceptible to GERD. Consumption of fried, fatty or spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and chocolate, as well as obesity, pregnancy, smoking and the natural aging process can worsen the symptoms of GERD.
If left untreated, reflux may lead to respiratory problems, ulceration of the esophagus or even esophageal cancer.
Individuals who think they may have chronic heartburn should see their physician or gastroenterologist to determine the cause and severity of the problem, the proper steps to take to improve their condition, and to determine if he or she is an appropriate candidate for surgical treatment.
Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF)
Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) is a surgical procedure that offers relief from GERD without surgical incisions. The majority of TIF patients are able to return to eating foods that they could not previously tolerate and are able to stop taking medication two years after the procedure.
Get Treatment for Gastrointestinal Disorders at the Endoscopy Center
The Endoscopy Center is located on the third floor at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.
Contact Kathy Cornforth, Director of Surgical Services and the Endoscopy Center, at 803-641-5131 for more information.