Did you know 10-20% of Americans have acid reflux disease? For many, it is an annoyance that occasionally happens if they eat the wrong food or drink too much coffee. However, for others, it can be a more frequent and serious problem that needs medical attention.
If you keep a bottle of antacids with you everywhere you go, or if you feel like you should own stock in the over-the-counter anti-reflux medications, chances are you are suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD.
Symptoms of GERD can include heartburn, feeling like there is a consistent lump or burning in your throat, difficulty swallowing, chest pressure or pain, and even regurgitation of food and liquid. Those who have acid reflux at night can also experience disrupted sleep, coughing, laryngitis, and increased asthma.
So what do you do if you’re constantly chewing antacids even while taking daily medication for your acid reflux? When all of that isn’t enough, you have another option. The TIF Procedure is minimally invasive and can be a life changer for those who suffer from GERD.
It’s all done using a special scope through your mouth while you are asleep, and there is no incision. It’s a 30-minute procedure that simply strengthens the natural closing muscles between the esophagus and stomach, and it doesn’t leave any type of metal implant in the body.
TIF stands for Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication, and it is revolutionizing how patients with severe acid reflux are being treated. Fundoplication procedures have been around for more than 50 years. What makes TIF special is that it is performed through the mouth rather than an open or laparoscopic surgery of the abdomen (these not only involve incisions, but can also result in increased side effects and lengthier recovery periods). TIF patients also report significantly less or none of the side effects associated with more invasive procedures, such as bloating, increased gas, and trouble swallowing.
TIF works by reinforcing the natural anti-reflux barrier between the esophagus and stomach. During a TIF procedure, we place small fasteners to help keep acid out of the esophagus and in the stomach where it should be. After this procedure, more than 80% of TIF patients have been able to stop taking their PPI medications. By restoring the closing function, TIF can also help prevent stomach acid from causing permanent esophageal damage such as Barrett’s Esophagus or even esophageal cancers.
What causes acid reflux in the first place? Most of the time, it is the patient’s own anatomy that is the culprit. Normally the valve between the esophagus and the stomach allows food to pass but then closes to keep stomach acid in the stomach. When this valve doesn’t function as it should, acid can flow back and up into the esophagus. Anyone with GERD can tell you this isn’t just annoying, it can be very painful. There are many reasons the valve might not be working, as it should, including genetics, injury, obesity, diet, or old age.
If you suffer from GERD and medication is no longer working for you or is not something you want to continue taking due to undesirable side effects, you can learn about the TIF procedure by calling Eastside Medical Center at (770) 559-0778 or visiting eastsidebariatricandgeneralsurgery.com. We look forward to helping you feel better.