Acid reflux is a common condition that most people occasionally experience. While many find it easy to manage their symptoms with store-bought antacids and diet and lifestyle changes, some are not as fortunate. Instead, their reflux becomes chronic and more severe. Millions of people are diagnosed with chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease every year.
If you have been experiencing chronic acid reflux symptoms, it’s highly recommended that you get acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA, as soon as possible. Without timely medical attention, the condition can worsen and eventually lead to the development of more serious medical issues like esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.
Continue reading to better understand the dangers of delaying acid reflux treatment.
Causes of Chronic Acid Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid and partially digested food flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn, indigestion, and other symptoms. The esophagus is the tube that runs from the mouth and carries food to the stomach. Normally, to keep the contents from leaking from the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle tightens and forms a seal. With acid reflux disease, this muscle malfunctions and doesn’t close like it should, allowing stomach acid to creep up into the esophagus and throat.
GERD is also attributed to the following causes:
- Hiatal hernias cause the upper part of the stomach to push through the diaphragm into the chest, allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus.
- Certain lifestyle habits, such as eating large meals, late-night meals, and certain foods and drinks, such as caffeine, alcohol, and fried, fatty, and spicy foods, can trigger acid reflux.
- Obesity and excess weight put additional pressure on the stomach and causes reflux.
- Hormonal changes and increased pressure on the stomach during pregnancy can cause acid reflux.
- Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus.
Many people describe acid reflux as a burning sensation in the chest or throat, known as heartburn. But heartburn is not the only symptom of chronic acid reflux. Reflux can also be silent and not cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat. Additional symptoms include difficulty swallowing, a bitter taste in the mouth, or a persistent dry cough.
What Are the Dangers of Delaying Chronic Acid Reflux Treatment in Orange County, CA?
Mild symptoms that occasionally occur are often treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These medicines are meant to provide relief temporarily and are not ideal for anyone experiencing chronic symptoms. Still, many people with chronic GERD symptoms tend to put off medical treatment in lieu of nonprescription remedies.
Because acid reflux is corrosive, repeat reflux episodes increase the risk of damage to the tissues of the esophagus and throat. Serious complications of untreated chronic acid reflux include the following:
- Esophagitis is when the esophagus becomes inflamed and irritated from long-term exposure to stomach acid. The condition causes difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and bleeding.
- Barrett’s esophagus causes cellular changes in the lining of the esophagus, increasing the risk of esophageal cancer.
- Esophageal strictures develop when the esophagus narrows, making it difficult to swallow.
- Respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia from stomach acid reaching the lungs.
- Tooth erosion, cavities, and other dental issues are common from repeat reflux into the mouth.
- Damage to the larynx, lungs, and other organs.
Early detection and treatment can help to prevent complications and reduce the risk of serious health problems.
Treatment Options for Chronic Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is progressive, but treatment options are available to address the cause and alleviate symptoms. Changing your diet can help alleviate symptoms of GERD. This includes eliminating certain foods and drinks that trigger acid reflux, eating smaller meals, and avoiding eating a few hours before bedtime. Also, lifestyle changes like losing weight, smoking cessation, and stress reduction are beneficial.
Over-the-counter antacids and H2 blockers can provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acid activity and reducing acid production. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are stronger medications that can also provide measurable relief by reducing acid production. Surgery is often necessary for severe cases. Surgery involves wrapping the upper portion of the stomach around the lower esophagus to strengthen to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
An acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA consultation is necessary to learn suitable treatment options for your situation. Recommendations are determined by the severity of your acid reflux symptoms, health profile, and other factors.
What Is Acid Reflux Surgery?
Acid reflux surgery, also known as anti-reflux surgery, is a surgical treatment option for people with chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Surgery is also recommended for those whose symptoms no longer respond to lifestyle changes and medications. While laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is the standard type in acid reflux surgery, the procedure is also performed as an open, traditional operation. Laparoscopic acid reflux surgery is minimally invasive because it involves several small incisions in the abdomen instead of the large one, which is common with conventional surgery.
Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication effectively reduced the symptoms of acid reflux. But the procedure does come with bleeding, infection, and difficulty swallowing risks. These risks are minimal for laparoscopic acid reflux treatment in Orange County, CA, but much higher with conventional anti-reflux surgery.
Acid reflux surgery is not recommended for everyone. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits with Dr. Abtin Khosravi, an acid reflux treatment specialist. Contact Orange County Robotic General Surgery to discuss your symptoms with Dr. Khosravi to learn suitable treatment options that can improve your quality of life. Call us today at (714) 541-4996!
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.