We try to care for our health and bodies as much as possible. This is why we exercise and try to keep fit, watch what we eat, and reduce stress. But if you – or anyone you know – have been suffering from GERD for some time now, help is on the way. While it’s possible to manage GERD with medication and lifestyle changes, anti-reflux surgery is an increasingly popular option for women with persistent and severe symptoms.
Defining GERD, and how it relates to gender
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. In essence, GERD is seen as a disorder of the digestive system in which the stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus, causing chest pain (which can often be mistaken for a heart attack), heartburn, and other symptoms.
There appear to be gender-specific differences in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Approximately 80% of women who are pregnant experience GERD at some point. This issue is likely due to less lower oesophageal sphincter pressure because of the increase in estrogen and progesterone in her body.
Also, as per one study, there was a predominance of symptomatic GERD in women. These same researchers found an increased frequency of the disease relating to menopause conditions.
A recent journal article echoes the finding of more frequent symptoms in women, such as heartburn and regurgitation. This speaks to the link between symptom perception and gender. Moreover, that same resource explains that some studies suggest HRT (hormone replacement therapy) might protect against esophageal cancer. Further research is needed on that matter.
What is anti-reflux surgery?
Anti-reflux surgery (also known as fundoplication) aims to strengthen the lower oesophageal sphincter, the valve separating the oesophagus from the stomach. Strengthening it can prevent acid reflux. But what else do you need to know about anti-reflux surgery as a woman? Let’s look at the risks, benefits, and more.
Potential enefits of anti-reflux surgery for women
Anti-reflux surgery in London from specialists such as Londonsurgicalgroup.co.uk can alleviate common GERD symptoms, such as acid regurgitation, heartburn, and chest pain. Surgery may also decrease the need for medication and improve your quality of life, especially if you have severe GERD.
Additionally, anti-reflux surgery may prevent complications related to GERD, such as strictures, oesophageal ulcers, and Barrett’s oesophagus. The latter is a condition that increases the risk of oesophageal cancer.
Understand the risks
Like any surgical procedure, anti-reflux surgery has potential complications and risks. For one, a patient can bleed or have an infection. She may have difficulty swallowing, feel bloated, and have persistent reflux symptoms.
Aside from this, anti-reflux surgery can result in other complications, like a hernia, an obstruction of the bowel, and a collapsed lung. But it’s essential to keep in mind that while these risks exist, the overall risks when it comes to complications are very low – and in fact, most women recover well after the procedure.
If you are pregnant and have severe heartburn, see your doctor immediately to find out the options. They will likely suggest a medicine to reduce the amount of stomach acid. The main thing is to keep the baby safe. A medical professional will be able to look at the risks to guide you; always follow what they say.
Evaluation before surgery
Before the surgery begins, you will undergo a preoperative evaluation. That includes blood tests, a physical exam, and imaging studies. With this evaluation, they will assess the severity of GERD, your overall health, and any other medical conditions that may affect the outcome of the surgery.
The assessment also includes a discussion of the surgery’s benefits, risks, and other treatment alternatives. You will also learn about postoperative recovery and follow-up care. Ask any questions you have; don’t be shy about doing so.
Recovery and after-care
After anti-reflux surgery, you will typically stay in the hospital for a day or two, and you can resume normal activities in a few weeks. Be mindful, however, of what you eat and do during your recovery period.
The doctor will likely recommend that you have a liquid or soft diet for several days and take medication for pain. They will likely also strongly suggest lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding smoking, heavy lifting, and alcohol. Listen to these instructions carefully and abide by them.
You also need to follow up with your surgeon regularly to monitor the outcome, manage any complications, and adjust the treatment plan if necessary. You should continue taking medications (such as proton pump inhibitors) as your healthcare provider prescribes to prevent acid reflux from recurring.
This post is for information purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
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