If you have ever felt a burning sensation in your chest or throat after eating a large greasy meal, then you have probably experienced acid reflux. It is a common condition in which the stomach contents spill back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux that occurs on a regular basis can result in a decreased quality of life.
Your stomach's job is to make acid that breaks down food and helps digestion. The stomach has a lining to protect it from acid, but the esophagus does not. There is a valve present where the stomach and esophagus join called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the LES malfunctions or is damaged, it does not close properly to keep the contents down in the stomach where they belong.
Some of the common causes of acid reflux are lying down after a heavy meal, being overweight or obese, poor dietary habits, smoking, diabetes, and anatomic hernias.
Chronic acid reflux can lead to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) which causes symptoms such as heartburn, sensation of food moving up the throat, a bitter taste in the mouth, persistent sore throat, hoarseness of voice, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, asthma, bad breath, and uncomfortable fullness after meals. In severe cases of acid reflux there may be tooth erosion by the stomach acid, ulcers in the mouth, larynx, or esophagus.
Dietary and lifestyle changes, while not being able to cure GERD, can reduce symptoms. Avoid fatty greasy foods, reduce your portion sizes, eat smaller and more frequent meals, maintain a healthy body mass index, avoid smoking, and don’t eat just before going to bed.
The next line of treatment is medications, which may be either over-the-counter antacids that provide temporary relief by neutralizing the stomach acid; or prescription medications that block stomach acid production.
For severe cases that do not resolve with these treatments, Dr. Ahmad offers minimally invasive robotic anti-reflux surgery. This surgery helps strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter and the junction between the stomach and esophagus. It is the ideal treatment for patients whose heartburn is not well controlled by medication and for those who do not want to rely on long-term medication to relieve their symptoms.
Dr. Arif Ahmad specializes in the laparoscopic gastric bypass, lap band and sleeve gastrectomy. He is renowned in the Long Island area for his impeccable track record of safety and success. Dr Ahmad conducts patient education sessions every two weeks at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson and in varying locations across Suffolk County. Please call (631) 689-0220 if you wish to register or have other questions.