Occasional heartburn isn’t uncommon, and it rarely causes for concern. However, if food has you reaching for antacids twice a week or more, you may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
GERD is defined by mild acid reflux that occurs twice a week or more, or severe acid reflux occurring once a week or more. It typically originates with the lower esophageal sphincter, a band of muscles that relaxes to permit food into your stomach, then contracts to stop stomach contents from backwashing into your esophagus.
Any failure to prevent this backwash may cause symptoms of acid reflux. When the condition becomes chronic, it may be considered GERD when it meets the definitions above.
Apart from the regular occurrence of acid reflux symptoms, you may find that the problem is worse at night or when you lie down. You may have trouble swallowing, and it may feel like you have a lump in your throat. Frequent regurgitation of food or stomach contents may also occur.
Other signs and symptoms include:
Medications and lifestyle changes may be able to bring GERD under control. However, when the lower esophageal sphincter deteriorates sufficiently, surgery may be the only alternative, since this sphincter effectively becomes an open door permitting backflow to occur unhindered. While fundoplication surgery assists the sphincter, it requires a major reshaping of the top of your stomach, though it can be performed using laparoscopic techniques.
Dr. Liu finds the LINX device to be an elegant solution to the cause behind the GERD problem. The LINX device is a ring of magnetic beads about the diameter of a quarter. It’s placed around your esophagus right at the entry to your stomach, the same location as the lower esophageal sphincter. The magnetic attraction of the beads is sufficient to hold your esophagus closed against the backwash of stomach contents.
However, when you swallow, the magnetic forces are weak enough that food passes into your stomach easily. The LINX device doesn’t interfere with any normal body function -- it only prevents a single abnormal function.
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