If you’ve been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, your doctor may have recommended one or a few different GERD treatment options for your recovery. GERD is caused by a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that contracts to keep stomach acid from rising back into your esophagus. When it is weakened, stomach acid will rise back up, causing acid reflux. GERD is often characterized by chronic acid reflux.

The issue with many GERD treatments is that they aim to control the symptoms of GERD including heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, or difficulty swallowing, rather than addressing the root cause of GERD. When your GERD treatments fail to relieve the symptoms of your GERD, you may need anti-reflux surgery to reverse the issue that is causing your GERD. Below are four signs it might be time for reflux surgery.

Sign #1 That It’s Time For Reflux Surgery: Diet and Lifestyle Changes Weren’t Enough

One of the first ways you may have tried to manage the symptoms of your GERD is with diet or lifestyle changes. These may include avoiding “trigger foods” (foods that you know will exacerbate your heartburn), quitting smoking, wearing less tight-fitting clothes, eating smaller meals, and losing weight. If these changes haven’t helped, and you don’t want to take medication, you can speak with your reflux doctor about GERD surgery.

Sign #2 That It’s Time For Reflux Surgery: Medication Stopped Helping 

Your doctor may have recommended a prescription or over-the-counter medication to treat your GERD symptoms. Maybe the medication worked to treat your symptoms for a while, but now your symptoms have returned. In that case, your doctor may suggest surgery for GERD to avoid any long-term complications of symptoms of GERD.

Sign #3 That It’s Time For Reflux Surgery: Your PPIs are Causing Issues

Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPIs are a type of medication used to treat GERD. PPIs used long term may increase the risk infection of the colon, cause low levels of magnesium, and have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks. Long-term use is considered longer than one year. Patients who want to avoid long-term issues as a result of their PPIs should elect to have surgery to strengthen their LES muscle instead, since it’s a permanent solution to their GERD rather than a band-aid approach.  

Sign #4 That It’s Time For Reflux Surgery: Your Doctor Recommends Surgery

If you’ve been experiencing complications caused by the prolonged symptoms of your GERD, your doctor may suggest that it’s time for you to get surgery. Surgery is the only way to treat the root cause of GERD, so many reflux doctors will eventually want to perform surgery in order to avoid any long-term complications caused by your GERD.  

It’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your doctor to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for GERD surgery. Be sure to inform him or her of any changes in your GERD symptoms, both positive and negative. Being up front and communicative with your doctor will ensure you get the best treatment possible.

Want to learn more about our surgical options for the treatment of GERD? Schedule a consultation with one of our reflux surgeons.

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