If you've ever had heartburn, you know that it's an incredibly uncomfortable condition. People who suffer from GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) have that awful feeling ALL THE TIME. Sadly, for many patients with GERD, the common prescription drug treatments like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid do nothing. And when "proton pump inhibitor" drugs fail, there aren't many options left. Many patients, desperate for relief, turn to surgery.
But GERD is not a simple medical problem, and surgery is not the answer. For more than 10 years, surgeons have been putting suffers of chronic GERD under the knife at the staggering rate of up to 35,000 patients a year. The surgical procedure, known as laparoscopic fundoplication, involves taking the top of the stomach and wrapping it around the lower part of the esophagus to create a barrier for acid reflux. This procedure it isn't terribly effective, yet surgeons turn to it time and again.
Fortunately, the medical community is finally starting to acknowledge that non-surgical options could be just as beneficial as surgery. The procedures, called "endoluminal therapies," involve the insertion of an endoscope (a long, flexible tool) into the esophagus.
In the practice known as "full thickness plication," the endoscope is used to stitch the junction of the stomach and the esophagus to tighten it. The other procedure is radiofrequency therapy, which applies heat in order to make the function of valve between the esophagus and the stomach more efficient.
One of the lead researchers in this study, Dr. Louis Jeansonne IV of the Ochsner Medical Centers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, still believes that medication is "the first thing people should try for reflux" — but that doesn't mean he's ready to abandon surgery as a GERD treatment.
"Surgery is still the most effective treatment in people who don't have relief with medications," Jeansonne says. And that's where the good doctor and I part company.
Studies have indicated that that patients who have undergone surgical procedures for GERD were much more likely to die during the 10 years after their operations than patients treated with medication alone.
As painful as GERD can be, you're better off exhausting all treatment options before you subject yourself to a risk surgery that may not even work.
In fact, if you're already a subscriber to The Douglass Report, keep an eye out for the August issue, where I'll tell you about my low-carb solution to heartburn, indigestion, and GERD.
[link to log-in page on website] I'll show you why everything your doctor has told you about acid reflux is absolutely wrong – and I'll put you on the path to heartburn relief today.
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