Mr Majid Hashemi, expert Consultant from The GI Unit at The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth, explains all about the causes of heartburn (reflux), from when you should seek medical assistance to the most effective treatment options.
What is the main cause of heartburn/acid reflux?
Figures show that 40 % of the population experience reflux at some point. It is those patients where it is persistent and recurrent that it starts to leave sequelae and therefore has a major impact on their daily life. The modern western lifestyle, day to day stresses, irregular eating and sleeping habits are all contributors. Being overweight makes heartburn worse – it tends to be more damaging in those people who are overweight.
Is this common to a certain age group?
Heartburn can affect people of all age groups.
What can a person do to ease symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux themselves?
Any person who requires medication to control their symptoms and becomes medication dependent should seek treatment. Anyone over the age of 40 with long-term heartburn
or recent worsening of heartburn symptoms will require an endoscopy to rule out other serious diseases.
When should a person seek medical help?
Patients who are medication dependent and who have responded to medication are good candidates for surgery. In particular any patients suffering as a result of a cough or voice loss because of their heartburn will be helped with surgery. Once performed, the surgery becomes even more important in giving definitive treatment, preventing further deterioration of the voice or lung consequences of the heartburn.
What can a patient expect from a consultation?
During the consultation, a detailed history is obtained and a careful analysis is made. A treatment regime is then drawn up, initially with medical management if this has not been tried. If the consequences are severe or the heartburn is severe then a plan for surgical treatment is prepared.
What are the most effective treatments options?
Surgery leads to a good outcome in over 95 % of patients.
Prior to surgery, it is important to look at the following;
- To establish the presence of reflux
- To be as sure as possible that the symptoms the patient is suffering from are indeed as a result of the reflux
How long is the recovering period if a patient undergoes surgery?
The surgery will take between 1- 2 hours and patients will require a 24 to 48 hours stay in hospital, with them often returning to work the following week. The surgery performed is keyhole in 99.7% of cases.
What are the benefits of a patient coming to The GI Unit?
At The GI unit, they have vast experience treating patients with heartburn. The unit has a very long experience of treating a whole range of patients with either mild reflux with medical and holistic treatments, all the way to the most extreme high risk cases with long-standing reflux and even patients with very large or giant hiatus hernias.
Book an appointment at The GI Unit
Flexible appointment times are available.