Your physician will work with you to identify the right treatment options for your symptoms. Treatments may include lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
Your physician may recommend modifications to your lifestyle that may help you control acid reflux. These recommendations may include changes to your diet or your meal routine, as well as other behavior modifications that may decrease your symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve symptoms and improve your daily life. These could include:
- Antacids: Over-the-counter stomach acid neutralizers to provide heartburn relief
- H2 blockers: Reduce the production of stomach acid which, in turn, can relieve symptoms
- Hydrogen ion or proton pump inhibitors: Stronger prescription medications to keep the stomach from making acid. They are usually prescribed for short-term use.
- Promotility agents: Can improve the movement of food through the stomach and prevent backflow of stomach acids into the esophagus
Lifestyle changes and medications may not relieve symptoms for patients whose heartburn is caused by mechanical problems with their esophagus. For these patients, a surgical procedure may provide relief.
A surgical procedure called "Nissen fundoplication" (known by some as the surgical gold standard) involves using the patient's own tissue to repair the sphincter in the esophagus. The Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) is recreated by wrapping the upper portion of the stomach around the lowest portion of the esophagus. Hiatal hernias are repaired at the same time. This procedure can be done by traditional open surgery or through less invasive laparoscopic surgery which is conducted with small surgical instruments through tiny incisions in the abdomen.
Linx Procedure (Only at Inova Alexandria)
The LINX procedure reestablishes control by improving how the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus functions. According to Dr. G. Kevin Gillian, "Our patients are off their medications the day of surgery, they're usually eating a regular diet the first day after surgery, and they are usually back to work well within the first week."
The Heartburn Treatment Center at Inova Alexandria Hospital is one of the busiest centers in the United States for the LINX implant. Inova Alexandria's center pioneered the LINX procedure when it was approved by the FDA in 2012, and is the only training center for the LINX procedure on the East Coast.
During the LINX procedure, five tiny incisions are made for the implantation of a small, flexible bracelet made of titanium and magnets around the patient's esophagus to prevent reflux.