Signs and Symptoms of GERD
A physician may be able to diagnose GERD based on a physical examination, health history, and your signs and symptoms. Symptoms of GERD include:
- Frequent heartburn
- Chest pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
Untreated GERD can lead to esophageal cancer.
Chronic heartburn can be a symptom of GERD.
Occasional heartburn is common. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and one fourth of those people experience heartburn symptoms everyday2. When heartburn becomes chronic and persistent, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition like GERD or Barrett’s esophagus.
GERD damages the esophagus.
GERD is a condition in which food and acid from the stomach flow backward into the esophagus. Over time, GERD damages the tissue lining the esophagus, causing difficulty swallowing, heartburn, inflammation, cough, sore throat, hoarse voice, vomiting, or pain. If left untreated, GERD can lead to permanent damage of the esophagus, irritate the lungs, and increase the risk of developing more severe problems like Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer.
A damaged esophagus is a risk factor for esophageal cancer.
About 10-15% of people with GERD will develop Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that results when stomach acid eats away at the lining of the esophagus. The cells in the esophagus are replaced with acid-resisting cells similar to those found in the stomach and intestine. These cells can become cancerous and lead to adenocarcinoma. Early detection and treatment of GERD can prevent Barrett’s esophagus and reduce your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Esophageal cancer is a silent, slow-growing cancer.
Esophageal cancer is particularly deadly because its symptoms–like pain, trouble swallowing, or loss of appetite–do not usually appear until the disease has already progressed to a point where treatment is ineffective. Sadly, only those who detect the cancer early on are likely to be cured.
Esophageal cancer is a slow-growing cancer. It doesn’t develop overnight. In most cases, it can take years to develop. That is why it’s important that all adults, especially males in their 50s and 60s, are aware of the risk factors and warning signs that lead to esophageal cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to improving your chances of survival.
Overuse of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can damage your health.
It’s increasingly common for patients diagnosed with GERD to take acid-reducing medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), both over-the-counter and prescription, to manage their symptoms. These medications suppress acid production to help relieve heartburn symptoms, but it’s not good to disrupt the body’s natural digestive system. Stomach acid helps the body digest food properly and absorb certain nutrients and proteins that our bodies need. Without enough stomach acid being produced, our bodies have difficulty digesting certain foods.
Taking PPIs will not cure GERD. One major misconception is that stomach acid causes acid reflux and GERD. However, GERD occurs when the esophageal valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach is not working properly, and using PPIs will not fix the faulty valve. Because PPIs fail to solve the underlying problem of acid reflux and GERD, people can easily become dependent on taking increased doses of the medications multiple times a day to get relief from their symptoms. Overuse of PPIs increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
The TIF procedure fixes GERD.
Though GERD can occur for a variety of reasons, it’s usually the result of a malfunctioning esophageal valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. The valve either opens at the wrong time or fails to close properly. Another cause of GERD is a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the opening of the diaphragm. In most cases, the TIF procedure can solve both problems.
TIF is an acronym for transoral incisionless fundoplication. Since the surgery is performed through the mouth, abdominal incisions aren’t required unless additional treatments are being included in the procedure, such as repairing a hiatal hernia. The TIF procedure allows the surgeon to restore the natural shape, location, and effectiveness of the esophageal valve, putting an end to painful GERD and reducing your risk of esophageal cancer.
Benefits of TIF
- No external incisions or scarring
- Fast recovery with rare complications
- Does not cause excessive gas or bloating
- Allows normal bodily functions like belching and vomiting
- No medications needed within a week or two after the procedure
- No reflux within a month after the procedure
- Improves quality of life (food choices, social and physical activities, sleep)
- Allows for future treatment options, if needed
- Can be revised if necessary
- Covered by most insurance
A general surgeon is an excellent choice of TIF provider.
You don’t have to live with chronic heartburn, a lifetime of medication, and the threat of developing esophageal cancer.
We are extremely fortunate at Amberwell Atchison to have Dr. Roderick Warren, one of the country’s leading TIF surgeons. Dr. Warren is a board-certified general surgeon with over 20 years of experience. Since 2017, he has performed over 160 TIF procedures.
Dr. Warren is an excellent choice for your TIF provider because instead of seeing one doctor for your pre-operative work and then another doctor for your actual TIF procedure, you can see Dr. Warren at Amberwell Atchison for everything, from the initial visit through your post-procedure follow up.