Experiencing acid reflux occasionally is common. If you’re having acid reflux or heartburn more than twice a week, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
In light of GERD Awareness Week happening November 17-23, know that if you struggle with GERD, or a loved one does, healing is possible. One exciting new treatment is helping GERD symptoms go away for good, and it’s available right here in Pasco County.
What Is GERD?
With GERD, acid rises from the stomach and irritates the esophagus lining. It’s a chronic, or long-term, digestive disease that involves burning pain in the chest, especially after eating. Other symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation of food, acid laryngitis and dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.
Over time, GERD can lead to complications like narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture) and respiratory issues if you breathe stomach acid into your lungs.
If you live with acid reflux issues or GERD, you aren’t alone. Approximately 20% of Americans have GERD, and you’re at risk of developing it if you’re a smoker, pregnant, taking specific medications or overweight.
The good news is that GERD is treatable, and there are several different treatment options to choose from. As with any medical treatment, you’ll likely see the best outcomes through whole-person care that accounts for your physical, mental and emotional needs.
Sometimes, changing your everyday lifestyle factors is enough for your body to heal GERD, but in many cases, the long-term use of prescription or over-the-counter medications is necessary. A doctor may prescribe you a proton pump inhibitor to control GERD symptoms as well.
Unfortunately, many people who take GERD medications still struggle with GERD symptoms. According to an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute survey, almost 40% of survey participants experienced uncomfortable GERD symptoms, despite their treatment.
If medications and other methods don’t work, or for people who want to avoid long-term medication and antacid use, surgery for GERD is another option. While some laparoscopic procedures exist, one new, quarter-sized device is helping people say goodbye to GERD symptoms for good.
The LINX® Procedure: A Long-Term Solution for GERD Symptoms
With GERD, your reflux barrier stops working properly. An implantable device called LINX®, which looks like a tiny metal bracelet, takes the place of the reflux barrier and effectively stops GERD symptoms.
The LINX® device acts almost like a one-way door to the stomach, keeping acid where it belongs: in the stomach and out of the esophagus. It’s implanted around the outside of the lower esophageal sphincter.
How the LINX® Device Works
“Because GERD is a chronic condition, it often means taking antacid medications for years, with only temporary relief from symptoms,” says Naga Thatimatla, MD, a board-certified general surgeon and Chief of Surgery at AdventHealth Dade City.
The LINX® device is a minimally invasive surgical option that frees people from a life of constantly using antacid medications. “The LINX® device provides them with long-term relief from acid reflux,” Dr. Thatimatla says.
“The LINX® device allows food to enter the stomach, but it prohibits acid from traveling up to the esophagus,” Dr. Thatimatla explains. In this way, it eliminates the possibility of acid reflux.
To get a better idea of how LINX® works, watch this animation.
Some GERD surgical interventions like fundoplication involve wrapping parts of the stomach around itself, but the LINX® implant is different. “Because it’s an implantable device, the LINX® is an option for people who don’t want any alterations to the stomach that are common in other GERD treatments,” Dr. Thatimatla says.
Best of all, the effects of the LINX® device are immediate. “The LINX® device is so exciting for our patients because it eliminates the symptoms of GERD, and it does so immediately,” Dr. Thatimatla says.
Find Relief From GERD With LINX® at AdventHealth Dade City
AdventHealth Dade City is excited to offer a long-term solution to GERD through the implantation of the LINX® device.
Dr. Thatimatla performs this procedure at AdventHealth Dade City — the first hospital in Pasco County to offer LINX® implantation.