SAN ANTONIO, Texas. --- If you know anyone who suffers from acid reflux symptoms, you know all they want is relief. Now it looks like a new surgery can ease the burn, as well as save lives.
Steven Huth says, “And now the heartburn is gone.” For decades, that wasn’t the case for Huth. Acid reflux stole much of his quality of life before surgery brought relief.
“I can eat anything now,” he said.
Steven was fitted with the Linx.
It’s a small string of magnetic beads that wraps around the esophagus, letting food pass, but keeping dangerous stomach acid in the stomach.
The laparoscopic procedure immediately and permanently relieves acid reflux problems. That’s important, because ongoing acid reflux can erupt into much more serious problems if acid stays in contact with the esophagus.
Leah Dill, D.O., Surgeon at Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas said, “And that long standing irritation can actually lead to pre-cancerous changes of the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagitis.”
While many people use proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, they’re not supposed to be used for more than six months.
“We’re really starting to see that there’s a lot of damaging effects from taking acid medications long-term,” Dr. Dill explained.
When these PPI drugs are taken longer…
“What that’s been shown to do is alter the bacteria content in the gut, and it can cause some bacteria overgrowth syndromes. They’ve seen a risk of osteoporosis-related fractures due to decreased mineral absorption after taking these medications,” Dr. Dill said.
Drugs like Nexium used to be prescription only, but since they’re now sold over the counter, more people are able to mask their symptoms without a trip to the doctor.
Dr. Dill says, “Now that people are able to self-medicate a little bit easier, we may be missing some of these patients who may then progress to esophageal adenocarcinomas.”
Which is one more worry Steve Huth doesn’t have to live with anymore.
The Linx is a permanent solution for people with body mass indexes of less than 35. And right now, Medicare covers the cost in most cases, but some private insurance companies do not.
ACID REFLUX SOLUTION: MAGNETS TO THE RESCUE
BACKGROUND: Acid reflux, or the regurgitation of food or sour liquid, is one of the most common digestive conditions that many people experience. More than 60-million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month. When the experience of acid reflux occurs at least twice a week, interferes with your daily life, or when damage to your esophagus is detected GERD may be diagnosed. There are many treatments available to help control acid reflux before it gets becomes GERD. Many antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids and Tums can help neutralize stomach acid. Although, once the esophagus has become inflamed, more advanced treatment is needed.
GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a chronic digestive disease that happens when the acid from your stomach flows back into your esophagus. This can be caused by the relaxation of the muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus allowing fluid to flow back into your food pipe. This flow of stomach acid irritates the lining within your esophagus causing GERD symptoms. These symptoms include chest pain (or a burning sensation within your chest), difficulty swallowing, dry cough, hoarseness, sore throat, sensation of a lump in your throat, and regurgitation or acid reflux. This constant backwash can go on to cause an inflamed esophagus or esophagitis. Over time, the inflammation could cause bleeding which could lead to development of Barrett's esophagus which is a precancerous condition.
LINX: LINX is a mechanical device that is surgically placed around the lower esophagus where the esophagus meets the stomach in order to treat gastro esophageal disease or GERD. The surgery is done laparoscopically and is minimally invasive. The LINX device looks like a small bracelet about the size of a quarter and is designed to allow food into the stomach but closes once the food passes through and keeps food and liquid in the stomach from passing back up into the esophagus. The LINX is devised for people who have a BMI of less than 35 and have had symptoms of acid reflux for longer than six months. Many people often treat their acid reflux or GERD symptoms with strong medications such as NEXIUM that can result in prolonged symptom masking. This can increase the risk of the development of esophageal cancer.
(Sources: http://www.linxforlife.com/, Leah Dill, DO, Southwest General Hospital, San Antonio, Texas)
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