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Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) (cont.)

Is there surgery to treat acid reflux (GERD)?

Surgery is never the first option for treating GERD. Changes in lifestyle, diet, and habits, nonprescription antacids, and prescription medications all must be tried before resorting to surgery. Only if all else fails is surgery recommended. Because lifestyle changes and medications work well in most people, surgery is done on only a small number of people.

The operation used most often for GERD is called fundoplication.

  • Fundoplication works by increasing pressure in the lower esophagus to keep acid from backing up.
  • The surgeon wraps part of your stomach around your esophagus like a collar and tacks it down to provide more of a one-way valve effect.
  • This procedure now can be done laparoscopically. The surgeon makes a couple of very small cuts in your belly and inserts long narrow instruments and a fiberoptic camera (laparoscope) through the slits. This method leaves little scarring and can produce a much faster recovery.
  • Like all surgical procedures, fundoplication does not always work and can have complications.

What about acid reflux (GERD) aftercare?

For best results, follow the advice of your health-care professional concerning medication and lifestyle.

  • Let your doctor what you are doing about your reflux disease and how well it is working.
  • Keep follow-up appointments. Your doctor may adjust your treatment at preset intervals of time or decide to refer you to a specialist if initial therapy fails.

Can acid reflux (GERD) be prevented?

The best and safest way to prevent reflux disease from occurring is to change the things that cause reflux.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Avoid large meals and eating within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Limit fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, and other irritating foods.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Maintain good posture, especially while seated.
  • Avoid working out, bending, or stooping on a full stomach.

What is the prognosis for a person with acid reflux (GERD)?

Reflux disease (GERD) is treatable, but relapses are common, especially if you do not change your lifestyle.

  • For people with mild-to-moderate disease, home care and H2-blockers are generally effective.
  • Severe esophagitis usually requires PPI therapy.
  • If relapses occur, long-term therapy or surgery will be necessary to avoid complications.

Complications of acid reflux can include any of the following. Most of these are rare, but GERD can be the first step toward any of them. The best treatment for any of these is prevention.

  • Esophagitis and esophageal ulcers: Inflammation, irritation of the lining of the esophagus
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux: When acid from the stomach gets into the throat, the voice becomes hoarse.
  • Bleeding: Due to ulcers in the damaged esophageal lining
  • Strictures: Narrowing of the esophagus due to chronic scarring
  • Swallowing problems: Due to strictures
  • Respiratory problems including asthma: When acid from the stomach gets into the breathing passages
  • Barrett's esophagus: Changes in the cells lining the esophagus, a precancerous condition
  • Cancer of the esophagus: Has a very low incidence rate


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States.

Medscape. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/12/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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