20-30% of people in the UK suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms. Everyone is aware that these can include acid heartburn and indigestion, but fewer know that the throat and lungs can also be affected causing a cough, sore throat, voice problems and even asthma and chest infections.
These symptoms can be occasional, inconvenient and uncomfortable; and for some people become a debilitating part of daily life. Due to lack of awareness, many people are not seeking effective treatment and instead rely on antacids to temporarily relieve pain and discomfort – without getting to the root of the problem.
Mr Nick Boyle, Consultant Upper Gastro-Oesophageal Surgeon from The London Reflux Clinic at The Lister Hospital is one of the UK’s leading experts in reflux disease. Here, Nick shares his thoughts on what people need to know about reflux, the challenges we currently face in the UK, and the best treatment methods which provide long term solutions for patients:
“Many people will experience reflux symptoms during their lifetime. These include burning heartburn, regurgitation, laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR or silent reflux), an unpleasant taste in the mouth, sore throat, throat clearing or voice problems. Some people will experience respiratory problems, asthma, cough or even chest infections. These symptoms can have a significant impact on lifestyle and can be very disruptive.
A big issue we have in the UK is that there just isn’t enough awareness about reflux disease and, patients often don’t know how/where to seek the best treatment. In contrast, in the USA people have access to specialist reflux centres and tend to be more proactive in asking their doctor for treatment.
For many people suffering with reflux symptoms their first port of call will be to take over-the-counter antacid tablets. When necessary their GPs will prescribe powerful anti-acid medications (PPIs). These can be very helpful but about 30% of patients will continue to experience symptoms, they especially don’t help LPR symptoms and don’t address the fundamental problem, which is failure of the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus. Often people are prescribed these drugs indefinitely and there are also increasing safety concerns when taken long-term, not least because of their effect on the gut’s biome and mineral absorption.
The London Reflux Centre at The Lister Hospital is the first and only centre in London staffed by a multidisciplinary team of experts. Gastro-oesophageal, ENT and respiratory specialists work with dieticians, physiologists and specialist reflux surgeons to diagnose and formulate optimal treatment pathways for patients, individually. Many factors can contribute to reflux disease and consequently, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach for patients.
An increasingly popular option for reflux patients is the innovative LINX® procedure. This is a day case keyhole procedure during which a small, flexible bracelet of interlinked magnetic beads is placed around the oesophagus. This strengthens the valve at the bottom of the oesophagus, creating a permanent barrier to the reflux of acid or bile.
The London Reflux Centre at The Lister Hospital have been performing this procedure on patients for several years now and are the most experienced centre in the UK. Research has shown that 85% of patients report that their symptoms are cured or significantly reduced, their quality of life improved and are able to stop taking PPIs. This is a great long-term solution for many reflux sufferers.
Too many patients with reflux symptoms feel there is no effective treatment. Our mission is to help by concentrating expertise and making the most modern and effective diagnostic and treatment options available in one specialist centre.
To learn more, visit https://www.hcahealthcare.co.uk/facilities/the-lister-hospital or call 020 3993 2296