WICHITA FALLS, TX–Greasy chicken wings, a sugary soda or may be even a cold brew may sound delicious in the moment., but not when it comes back up.
When people get acid reflux on a daily basis, the more likely they are to develop a disorder called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.
Gastroenterologist Dr. Christopher Morrison says noticing the difference between an occasional upset stomach and a serious disorder like GERD may save a patient in the long run.
“If that’s been present for many years or if it’s not responding to medication that you’re taking over the counter,you should definitely see your doctor,” said Dr. Morrison. “Some more concerning symptoms would be things like trouble swallowing or if you’re losing weight unintentionally.”
According to Dr. Morrison, constant acid reflux is not only caused by fatty or salty foods, but things like smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight can trigger a reflux disorder. Also, the risk for esophageal cancer becomes greater for middle aged adults and seniors who have all these factors.
Dr. Morrison says there are two main types of esophageal cancer. “One is Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is usually in the upper chest associated with smoking, tobacco use and alcohol, the other is Adenocarcinoma which is usually in the lower chest down by the stomach and we think that’s more associated with constant acid reflux disease.”
He says esophageal cancer is a problem because it often presents itself in later stages. Only about 20% of patients who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer will survive five years.
Treating acid reflux can be as simple as changing your lifestyle, eating a better diet, and taking medications regularly. Yet in some cases, a more drastic measure is needed.
“A small amount of people will need surgery for their acid reflux,” said Dr. Morrison. “The ways that we would do that would either be to repair a hiatal hernia, something called fundoplication where we wrap part of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus to tighten it, or a newer procedure called LINX.”
LINX uses a ring of magnetic beads to tighten the bottom of the esophagus through a series of incisions. A link to United Regional’s LINX procedure demonstration can be found here.
While this minimally invasive surgery is brand new to Wichita Falls, it’s proof that more advancements to local medicine are on their way for people who need it most.