Treatment for reflux or GERD ranges from over-the-counter medication to lifestyle changes, and in severe cases, minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and make a recommendation on the best course of treatment for you.
Medication to Lifestyle Changes
Reducing the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus will relieve symptoms of GERD or reflux. Medications that neutralize stomach acidity, decrease acid production, or strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle that prevents acid from backing up into the esophagus) may be prescribed. These medications can include:
- Acid Production Reducers
Lifestyle changes may also be recommended to reduce reflux symptoms such as:
- Avoiding large or heavy meals
- Eating several smaller meals
- Avoiding lying down or bending over immediately after a meal
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Stopping smoking
- Avoiding Alcohol
- Limiting the amount of fatty foods consumed
- Eating at least three hours before bedtime
Minimally Invasive Surgery
If GERD is caused by a hiatal hernia, also referred to as esophageal hernia, and these measures fail to control symptoms or complications occur, surgical repair of the hernia may be necessary.
If the patient wishes to avoid long-term medication use to treat acid reflux, surgical procedures may be used to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Fundoplication is a common procedure for GERD.
- Fundoplication. During this procedure, the very top of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus in order to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux. This procedure is usually performed laparoscopically using three to five small incisions in the abdomen. A camera is inserted through one of the incisions, allowing the doctor to view the procedure on a video monitor. The remaining incisions accommodate the surgical instruments. If the patient also has a hiatal hernia, it can be repaired during this procedure.
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