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Medication, Surgery Both Treat Acid Reflux Well

Study: Many GERD Patients Get Relief From Either Treatment

Medication or Surgery for GERD? continued...

And the fix may not be permanent. Most patients will see their symptoms return five to 10 years after their procedure. In those cases, the wrap can be tightened with another procedure, or they may return to taking medication.

Another consideration may be cost.

Several studies that have compared the out-of-pocket costs for patients taking proton pump inhibitor medications and acid reflux surgery find that the surgery costs more, even when costs are stretched over years.

In a Canadian study published in 2011, for example, which followed patients who either took proton pump inhibitors or had surgery to correct their acid reflux for three years, the surgery cost about $3,000 more than the medical costs, including doctors’ visits, incurred taking the medication.

Lifestyle Changes

For people who aren’t ready to try medications or surgery, experts said lifestyle interventions, including smoking cessation and dietary changes, can be helpful.

Sadly, doctors say those options aren’t often discussed.

In one survey of doctors who treat GERD, only 4% spoke to their patient about smoking cessation, and only 25% discussed dietary changes, says Kenneth W. Altman, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

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