GERD Treatment Options

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, occurring in approximately one-third of the population, according to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

GERD is a chronic condition caused by the routine backup of stomach contents into the esophagus.

“The muscle that connects the esophagus with the stomach is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and its job is to act as a valve to stop food and stomach acids from flowing back up the esophagus. But if the LES is weakened, stomach acids back up and cause the unpleasant sensations of heartburn, or acid indigestion,” says Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, DO, MHA, FACOS, a General Surgeon at Aspirus Divine Savior Hospital and Clinic. “It may feel like food is backing up into the mouth, leaving a bitter taste.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are many ways to treat GERD and often times a combination of options can help manage symptoms. 
 
“Many people can limit GERD symptoms by changing their lifestyle and diet,” says Pogorelec.  
“Losing weight, quitting smoking and decreasing meal portions or avoiding foods and beverages that can irritate the esophagus or weaken the LES can all help.”

Pogorelec adds that elevating your head during sleep by placing a foam wedge or extra pillows under your head and upper back to incline your body and raise your head off your bed 6 to 8 inches is another helpful tool. 

Another approach is over the counter (OTC) GERD medications, such as antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), to relieve mild symptoms. If symptoms persist, prescription medications can be the next step. 

Surgery may be recommended if your GERD symptoms don’t improve with lifestyle changes and medications, or if you wish to stop taking long-term GERD medications to manage symptoms. 
One highly effective procedure is the LINX Reflux Management System. An option for appropriate patients, LINX provides advanced, minimally invasive treatment quickly and effectively. 

“LINX is a revolutionary treatment that controls reflux issues long term, eliminating the need for continuous use of antacid medications,” said Pogorelec. “A simple device that is roughly the size of a quarter is implanted at the base of the esophagus to do what your failing reflux barrier is supposed to do — prevent stomach acid from entering your esophagus. This tiny, life-changing device starts working almost immediately and leads to relief from day one.”

Talk to your primary care provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of GERD. If you think you may be a candidate for treatment, contact the office of Dr. Pogorelec at Aspirus Divine Savior and Clinic at (608) 745-5176.