What treatment is available for acid reflux? We explore how to treat acid reflux and get rid of it for good.
All of us have experienced heartburn at one time or another, especially after indulging in a spicy takeaway. You might even experience it regularly.
It’s often used interchangeably with acid reflux — where stomach acid travels up into the oesophagus — but they aren’t one and the same. Heartburn is simply a symptom of acid reflux and, despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It’s so-called because the area where you’ll often feel a burning sensation is just behind the heart.
Heartburn isn’t the only symptom of acid reflux. You may also have:
- A bitter taste in your mouth — caused by the acid travelling up your throat
- A persistent cough or hiccups
- Bad breath
Your symptoms are usually worse after eating or when lying down.
For most people, acid reflux happens only once in a while, and it’s nothing that chewing an antacid won’t solve. But some people have acid reflux frequently, known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
GORD is rarely a cause for concern, but it can be unpleasant for those with the condition. People with GORD might have symptoms that make it difficult to sit comfortably or even sleep, with some people woken at night with a sour taste in their mouth and a burning sensation in their chest.
Thankfully, there are treatment options available for acid reflux. We sat down with Mr Majid Hashemi, a leading GORD specialist at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, to find out how common acid reflux is, how to treat it and when you should visit our gastro specialists in London.
Is acid reflux common?
40% of the population has acid reflux at some point in their lives. But when it’s persistent and recurrent, it can lead to other problems and impact patients’ day-to-day lives. Our modern lifestyle, with its daily stresses, irregular eating and bad sleeping habits, all contribute. Being overweight also makes symptoms worse and tends to be more damaging.
Should I consider surgery for acid reflux?
There are many types of medication available to treat acid reflux, including omeprazole and lansoprazole. But if you’re dependent on medication to control your acid reflux symptoms, you should seek treatment.
You should also consider surgery if you are over the age of 40 and have long-term heartburn or your symptoms have recently worsened. An endoscopy (a procedure where a long thin tube with a camera inside is passed through your body) may be recommended to rule out other serious diseases.
Finally, if you are suffering from a cough or voice loss because of your heartburn, surgery may be recommended to prevent further deterioration of the voice or lungs.
The recommended route to treat acid reflux is a minimally-invasive keyhole surgery carried out using the LINX system. This is a small, flexible band of magnetic beads placed around the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus. This band creates a barrier to the reflux of acid from the stomach, preventing further reflux symptoms.
What can I expect from a consultation with you?
During your consultation, we’ll obtain a detailed history and analyse your unique situation to draw up a personalised treatment regime. This may include medical management if you haven’t previously tried it. As always, surgery is the last resort and only for patients who are medication-dependent or whose acid reflux is severe.
How effective is surgery for acid reflux?
Before surgery is considered, it’s important to establish the presence of reflux and be sure that the symptoms a patient is suffering from are a result of acid reflux and not some other condition, such as a hiatus hernia. Surgery leads to a good outcome in over 95% of patients.
How long is the recovery period following surgery?
In 99.7% of cases, we carry out the operation via keyhole surgery, which is minimally invasive. The surgery takes one to two hours, and patients require 24 to 48 hours in the hospital. They can often return to work the following week.
Why choose the GI Unit at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital?
We have extensive experience in dealing with patients with heartburn, from those with mild reflux to the most extreme cases where it impacts a patient’s day to day. We also offer a very competitive self-pay package for those who don’t have private health insurance.
Mr Majid Hashemi was the first surgeon to use the LINX system in the UK. If you are suffering from acid reflux and would like to learn more, you can make an enquiry via email at [email protected] or by calling 078 09 74 2 339.
You can also book an appointment or make a general enquiry with a private gastroenterologist by calling 020 7078 3802 or emailing [email protected].