The Woodlands, Texas – Every year we pay billions of dollars to companies for acid reflux treatment.
The common issue can present with a range of symptoms after a meal, such as heartburn or chest pain. Meanwhile, others may have chronic issues like sore throat, cough, and pneumonia.
You may want fast relief from the burning, aching feeling, but the long-term complications are most concerning.
“Although a small risk, there is a chance that the cells can change, and when the cells change, it can also possibly lead to a higher risk of cancer. Esophageal cancer is one,” said Dr. Yong Choi, St. Luke’s bariatric and reflux surgeon. “You can get aspiration when you regurgitate acid into your lungs and get lung issues. And then I know a lot of things have been written recently about long-term use of reflux medication.”
To cure acid reflux, some turn to surgery.
Dr. Choi said depending on the patient, some operations may be better than others.
The Linx is a device with magnets held together by titanium wires that expands and restricts around the esophagus.
Dr. Choi said there’s no pain, no long recovery or special diet needed. After surgery, he still advises patients to have a healthy, low-acidic diet, but this device allows them the freedom to occasionally indulge without feeling pain.
The biggest problem with Linx is that it’s not yet widely covered by insurance.
Linx is also not recommended for people with a BMI greater than 35, according to Dr. Choi, or those allergic to metal.
However, Dr. Choi said of the more than 100 patients of his who have gotten the Linx, they are happy with the result.
“The message is you don’t have to live with reflux. I think people just get used to it and feel that’s the norm and there are definitely options out there,” he said.