When Does Your Acid Reflux Need Medical Attention?

If you’re one of the millions of people in the United States that suffer from acid reflux, it’s important that you don’t ignore your condition. Without treatment, chronic acid reflux can lead to permanent damage in your gastrointestinal system.

At West Houston Bariatrics, experienced bariatric surgeon Christopher Reilly, MD, FACS, offers surgical solutions to resolve acid reflux that’s caused by obesity. Dr. Reilly can also provide recommendations for treating chronic acid reflux and preventing injuries to your esophagus and other parts of your gastrointestinal tract.

An overview of acid reflux

Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, involves the backflow of stomach acids into your upper digestive tract. The acid is able to flow back up into your esophagus and mouth due to dysfunction in the valve at the top of your stomach.

Typically, this valve opens to allow foods to pass down into the stomach and closes to keep acids from traveling back up. When the valve isn’t closing fully, stomach acids flow backward and can lead to persistent irritation and inflammation in your esophagus, throat, and mouth.

If you have chronic acid that occurs several times a week, you may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Seeking treatment for acid reflux

You should seek medical attention if you experience more than occasional acid reflux symptoms. The hallmark symptoms of acid reflux are a burning sensation that spreads up through your chest and throat and the taste of a bitter liquid in your mouth.

Acid reflux and GERD can also cause:

Over-the-counter medications can help reduce acid production and neutralize existing stomach acid to keep you more comfortable. If these medications aren’t enough to improve your symptoms or no longer work to treat your acid reflux, you should consult with a specialist like Dr. Reilly.

Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is a minimally invasive procedure that can benefit those with persistent acid reflux who don’t need bariatric surgery. This procedure involves restoring the function of the valve (esophageal sphincter) between your esophagus and your stomach to reduce the backflow of acid. 

It’s especially important to get medical help if you experience chest pain as the result of acid reflux. You should also get help if you notice inflammation in your gums or have erosion damage in your teeth.

How bariatric surgery can relieve acid reflux

While bariatric surgery isn’t the right solution for everyone, it may be beneficial for relieving acid reflux symptoms that result from obesity. When you carry too much weight, it puts additional pressure on your gastrointestinal tract. This pressure can cause the valvular dysfunction that leads to acid reflux and ultimately results in GERD.

Before recommending weight loss surgery, Dr. Reilly performs a physical exam, reviews your medical history, and discusses what over-the-counter treatments you’ve been using to control acid reflux. He also checks for other underlying conditions, such as a hiatal hernia, that can contribute to the backflow of stomach acids.

If you’re a candidate for weight loss surgery, Dr. Reilly offers three different surgical techniques, including gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery, and gastric balloon procedures. He works closely with you on your weight loss goals and medical history to determine which surgery is the best option for you.

Don’t ignore the warning signs of potentially harmful acid reflux. Schedule a diagnostic evaluation by calling West Houston Bariatrics or by using the online booking feature today.

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