Many of those suffering from excess weight or obesity also find themselves having acid reflux also known as gastroesophageal reflux. When acid reflux becomes chronic, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD can be very obvious, with symptoms such as sour taste in the mouth, chest pain or waking with a sore throat, however for others, this reflux can be labeled as ‘silent reflux’ and it is often accompanied by no symptoms whatsoever. Silent reflux is usually diagnosed via an endoscopy.
For those who have a problem with their weight, one of the main causes of acid reflux is the excess fat in the abdominal area pushing on the stomach and forcing the contents of the stomach up into the esophagus. The esophagus is not designed to tolerate the corrosive acid of the stomach and this can lead to chronic irritation and even cellular changes.
Proton Pump Inhibitors, Or PPI’s, are usually prescribed for someone who is experiencing symptoms or GERD. Popular names of these medications are Omeprrazole (Prilosec), Nexium, Dexilant, Aciphex, Lansoprazole (Prevacid). While these medications are effective in controlling the acidity of the stomach contents, it is not always the answer to treating reflux. A PPI medication doesn’t exactly “fix” the problem, but rather controls symptoms by reducing the acidity of stomach contents. This makes reflux feel less severe. The ideal way to truly control and eliminate GERD is through weight loss and lifestyle change. Follow some of these tips to help control reflux.
- Eat less fat. High fat meals can decrease the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and also delay stomach emptying. This will increase your risk of reflux.
- Avoid large meals. Overeating can increase the pressure in the stomach and cause reflux.
- Decrease total number of calories and also the fat intake to help promote weight loss. Any amount of weight loss is beneficial.
- Avoid heavy evening or nighttime meals. This can lead to weight gain and also symptoms of reflux overnight.
If you suffer from bad acid reflux always tell your health care practitioner about it. Part of your pre-operative workup will include an endoscopy by a gastroenterologist which can evaluate the severity of your reflux. Of course, for those who have not had success with diet and exercise, bariatric surgery may be a good option. It is important to remember, however, that not all procedures are suited to those with severe GERD. For example, gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy can often increase the incidence or severity of reflux. The most effective procedure for those suffering from extreme gastric reflux is the gastric bypass.