Taking a purple pill every day for life is not the only option when it comes to acid reflux (or GERD).
- How the pills work.
- Minimally invasive surgery for reflux.
- A brand new treatment.
The Purple Pill isn’t the only Option for GERD
Many acid reflux or GERD suffers start heartburn treatment by taking over the counter antacids, progress to H2 blockers such as Zantac or Pepcid and then go on to powerful PPIs such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid, often without complete control of symptoms.
Recommendations regarding lifestyle changes such as; avoiding certain foods, not eating near bedtime, and the importance of losing weight are never provided or are ineffective. Some are never told that the medications are required for life nor educated about the side effects of these medications. Furthermore, the other treatment options are often never even discussed.
The medications function by either neutralizing or decreasing the production of stomach acid. The acid is only one component of stomach juice which is composed of many chemicals. However, it is the acid, when refluxed upward into the esophagus that is the irritant causing the symptoms of heartburn and pain caused by gastroesophageal reflux.
What does the Purple Pill Do?
The purple pill decreases stomach acid in an effort to reduce symptoms, but do not address the actual cause of reflux, which is the malfunction of the valve that lies at the end of the esophagus (LES). The LES remains dysfunctional and the pills simply cover up the reflux which still continues. There are immediate and long-term side effects of the pills and they are expensive and inconvenient. What’s more, symptom relief is often incomplete and the suffering continues. The stomach is supposed to make acid and there are reasons for it. The pills disturb this which alters the natural digestive process.
GERD Sufferers have Options
What most sufferers do not realize or are never told is that the pill is not the only option! GERD patients deserve to know all the choices when treating their disease so they can work with their physicians in choosing the best one for them.
The two best options that restore function of the LES and can avoid the need for medications are both minimally invasive surgical procedures. The mainstay, until recently is a procedure called a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. Through 2 small incisions, a part of the stomach is used to actually reconstruct and restore the function of the area of the lower esophagus at the LES restoring the important barrier to reflux. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, takes approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours with an overnight hospital stay with patients returning to normal “every day” activities within 2 weeks in most cases. The diet is initially modified with return to normal eating in 6 to 12 weeks. The vast majority are able to stop their medications and the results are very good with high patient satisfaction. In fact, studies have shown, when measured with testing after the procedure, that the reflux is stopped in 80-90% of patients and 80-90% are satisfied with their result, would recommend it to a friend and if they had it to do over, would have the procedure again. These studies were done 5-8 years after the procedure.
However, there are side effects associated with the procedure such as bloating, swallowing difficulty and diarrhea, usually resolving by several months after the procedure. In order to obtain these results the laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication must be performed by a surgeon experienced in this procedure and only after proper testing is done.
By restoring the LES function and stopping the reflux the acid suppressing medications can be discontinued allowing the stomach to return to its normal physiology, producing acid and restoring its normal function in the digestive process.
LINX Reflux Management System vs. the Purple Pill
A new procedure called the LINX Reflux Management System is also available that has similar results as the Nissen but without the side effects. Not every patient with GERD are candidates for this procedure but it appears to be the best option available for many patient with GERD. The Heartburn Treatment center has been select as one of the first Centers nationally to offer this treatment option.
There are several options for GERD treatment that all sufferers should be made aware of. For many, these may be the best choice.
So remember, the purple pill is not the only option in treating GERD!
Today, make that decision to contact Dr. Nilesh Patel. Register for your FREE Evaluation at one of our GERD treatment centers. If you would like to speak to someone about GERD and its causes, symptoms or treatments please fill out our online contact us form.