Obesity and GERD
If you have struggled with obesity for an extended period of time, you are at an increased risk for developing a number of health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Often times, one obesity-related disorder can lead to the cause of another so it is important to maintain a healthy weight in order to prevent chronic conditions and improve your overall health. One condition that can develop because of excessive weight is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition is more commonly known as acid reflux (heartburn) and can be painful and surprisingly disruptive to your daily life.
What is GERD?
GERD is a chronic disorder which occurs when acid from your stomach is pushed up into your esophagus. This is generally caused by a relaxing or malfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a barrier between your esophagus and your stomach. When stomach acid enters the esophagus it causes a burning sensation in your throat and/or chest. When this sensation occurs frequently (generally more than twice a week) you are likely be diagnosed with GERD.
Symptoms often associated with GERD include:
- Chest pain
- Burning sensation accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sensation of a lump in the throat
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Dry cough
- Hoarseness or a sore throat
Treatment of GERD
Since obesity is a common risk factor for GERD, general treatment should include dietary and lifestyle changes geared towards weight loss and weight management. If you have struggled with obesity or are suffering from one or more obesity-related disorders such as GERD, bariatric surgery may be an appropriate treatment option for you. It is quite common for surgical repair of conditions such as hiatal hernia that can cause GERD to be performed at the same time as your bariatric surgery.
Weight loss surgery is beneficial for chronic obesity-related disorders because:
- It limits the amount of food you can consume, dramatically aiding in weight loss
- It promotes lifestyle changes and long-term wellness
- It promotes dietary changes that could benefit GERD
During your weight loss journey, Dr. Bass may also suggest medications (antacids, H2 blockers or PPI’s) to soothe painful GERD symptoms. Your diet during this time will also be a factor not only for your weight, but for your reflux disorder. Avoiding certain “trigger foods” will benefit both your weight loss and your reflux.
Common foods/beverages to avoid or limit for the management of GERD and also for the optimization of weight loss following bariatric surgery include:
- Citrus food products
- Fatty/ greasy foods
Weight loss surgery will also make it so that you are physically able to only eat a small amount of food at a time. Eating smaller meals and avoiding overeating is also an important tip when treating GERD.
If you are obese and suffering from disruptive symptoms of GERD, talk to Dr. Bass about your treatment options. Dr. Bass and your weight loss team will help to relieve your discomfort, treat you reflux disease and aid you with maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle.