Breaking Free from Acid Reflux

Several months ago, it was almost guaranteed that wherever Dora Kern went, a bottle of antacids went with her.

“I kept them in my car, in my locker at work, at home, at my mother-in-law’s home,” said Dora, 53, of Lancaster. “People would tease me about my stash of antacids.”

But the antacids only provided temporary relief for Dora’s heartburn, which plagued her night and day for three long years. No matter what she ate or what she drank, she could count on heartburn to soon follow.

“It didn’t matter what it was … I would eat a banana – heartburn. I would have a drink of water – heartburn,” Dora said. “It was constant.”

Seeing herself going down the same path as her mother, who lived with heartburn for 20 years before she had corrective surgery, Dora turned to the Fairfield Medical Heartburn Center for help. She had heard about a surgical procedure offered at FMC called the LINX® Reflux System, and wanted to see if she was a candidate.

“I wasn’t bothered by the idea of surgery; I knew I didn’t want to take medication for the rest of my life,” Dora said.

The LINX is a surgical device made up of a small band of magnets. Through a minimally invasive procedure, the LINX is placed around the esophagus to keep the lower esophageal sphincter closed. In people who experience reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly, which allows acid to flow back up from the stomach.

To see if she was a good candidate for the LINX surgery, Dora had to undergo a series of tests. One of those tests required her to go without her reflux medication for a week so that her doctor could measure how many times she experienced reflux.

“On the first day, I refluxed 65 times,” Dora said. “The next day, it was 123.”

Dora’s testing showed that she not only had gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, but also the beginnings of a hiatal hernia, a condition in which the stomach pushes up into the diaphragm. Both findings made her a good candidate for the LINX. In April, Jeffrey Yenchar, M.D., the medical director of the Heartburn Center, performed Dora’s surgery.

Within days, Dora was no longer experiencing reflux.

“I can eat any time and I can eat anything I want,” she said. “It’s like when I was young and didn’t have any of those troubles.”

She added that it feels great to finally stop taking medication after so many years – and she’s found a new home for her stash of antacids.

“I’ve combined them into three containers and I’m giving them to my friend with heartburn,” Dora said. “I’m going to tell her, ‘Now you can use these, but what you really need to do is check into the surgery.’ I would recommend the LINX to anyone.”

Tags: Heartburn, Acid Reflux,