SSM Health Medical Minute: Thanksgiving is GERD Awareness Week

Medical Minute
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ST. LOUIS - The 19th annual GERD Awareness Week is November 18 – 24. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a very common disorder.

Each year around the week of Thanksgiving, IFFGD encourages people experiencing the symptoms, which may be GERD related, to consult their physicians and to receive support regarding the condition as there are options to find relief. GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This acid reflux can irritate the lining of your esophagus.

Some people experience symptoms intermittently which can be helped with over the counter acid reflux medication or changing their diet. But GERD is acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. Common symptoms of GERD include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest Pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of Food or sour liquid
  • The sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Often patients with GERD experience a chronic cough or disrupted sleep

SSM Health Medical Group surgeon, Dr. Laura Grimmer uses something called the LINX procedure to help patients reduce the chance of acid backing up into the esophagus. LINX provides an option for patients who are taking acid-suppressing drugs (i.e. Prevacid®, Nexium®, Prilosec®, etc.) but are not getting their desired results.

These types of medications help control acid build-up, but they cannot repair the underlying problem.

The LINX Reflux Management System is a permanent, drug-free treatment for GERD that consists of a small band of magnetized titanium beads wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) located at the base of the esophagus. This band helps prevent gastric acids from pushing back up into the esophagus from the stomach, yet also safely allows the LES to open when required to allow for easy swallowing. When a person with the LINX system installed swallows, the motion of food or drink passing through the lower esophagus overcomes the magnetic attraction between the beads permitting the contents to pass through the LES into the stomach. When the stomach reacts and reflux tries to escape up the esophagus (which would then result in heartburn), the magnetic beads keep the acid down in the same manner as a normally functioning LES. This procedure can help patients return to a normal lifestyle unaffected by their GERD.

If you are taking over the counter medications more than twice a week, and want to learn more about GERD options, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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