Do you get regular heartburn? It may not be just heartburn. An estimated 1-in-5 American adults suffers from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). GERD is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can become a lifelong disease and lead to potentially more serious health conditions. GERD can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that results when stomach acid eats away at the lining of the esophagus. Having Barrett’s Esophagus increases one’s risk of developing esophageal cancer. Chronic GERD can also lead to esophageal cancer, which kills nearly 16,000 people per year, over 75% of whom are men.
If you experience symptoms such as frequent heartburn, chest pain, unintentional weight loss, indigestion, and difficulty swallowing, you should talk to your primary care provider about your risk of GERD. Some relatively simple tests can give your provider a clear diagnosis.
Not only can GERD lead to esophageal cancer, it’s also a painful, debilitating disease on its own, without a cancer diagnosis. Gastroesophageal reflux, or acid reflux when it’s a milder condition, occurs when the valve between your stomach and esophagus fails to work properly, allowing the contents of your stomach to flow back into your esophagus, including the stomach acid. Patients diagnosed with GERD are usually treated with medication, but that only treats the symptoms without curing the disease. Many sufferers find themselves taking these medications several times per day to combat the symptoms.
Another option to eliminate GERD and thereby reduce your risk of esophageal cancer is a procedure called transoral incisionless fundoplication, or TIF. The TIF procedure for reflux is an endoscopic and minimally invasive procedure that can help rebuild and restore proper function to the faulty gastroesophageal valve and relieve your GERD.
We're fortunate to have Dr. Roderick Warren, one of the country's leading TIF surgeons, at Amberwell Health. You deserve to live your life free of the constant need for medication, the discomfort of GERD, and the increased risk of esophageal cancer. Learn more about the TIF procedure for reflux and take our online assessment to see if TIF is right for you, visit: TIF Surgical Treatment for GERD.