A new powerful treatment is available to neutralize the bothersome and painful heartburn of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
“Inadequate symptom control is common with currently available proton pump inhibitors [PPIs, the first-line treatment for GERD], said Dr. Melchor Chan, associate professor III, department of Medicine, University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, and chief, endoscopy unit of UST Hospital. “Current PPIs do not provide 24-hour acid control resulting in nighttime symptoms that impair quality of life and work productivity.”
After every meal, millions of tiny pumps (proton pumps) in the stomach produce the acid that helps digest food. At the bottom of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES opens between the esophagus and stomach to allow food and liquids to enter the stomach. If the valve doesn’t close all the way, or if it opens too often, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus and cause symptoms like persistent heartburn, stomach acid reflux, burning sensation in the throat, and pain or burning sensation in the chest. This condition is called gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
Dr. Joseph Bocobo, president of Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, said: “Occasional GER is common and does not necessarily mean a person has GERD. However, persistent GER that occurs more than twice a week is considered GERD.”
Chan added: “Early diagnosis and optimal treatment are important. Untreated, GERD can lead to more serious health problems such as erosive esophagitis and Barrett’s esophagus.”
Erosive esophagitis develops when the esophagus is irritated and damaged by continued exposure to stomach acid. Barrett’s esophagus is a serious complication of chronic GERD involving changes in the normal tissue lining the esophagus, which can increase the risk for cancer of the esophagus.
GERD treatment involves lifestyle changes and medications; when neither of these treatment options works, surgery is the last recourse.
Among the lifestyle changes are quitting smoking, avoiding foods and beverages that worsen symptoms, losing weight if needed, eating small frequent meals, wearing loose-fitting clothes, avoiding lying down for 3 hours after a meal and raising the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches by securing wood blocks under the bedposts. Common foods and beverages that can worsen symptoms include citrus fruits, chocolate, drinks with caffeine or alcohol, fatty and fried foods, garlic and onions, mint flavorings, spicy foods and tomato-based foods like spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili and pizza.
Unlike antacids (e.g. calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate) and H2 blockers (e.g. cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine) that provide short-term symptomatic relief, PPIs relieve GERD symptoms and heal the esophageal lining in patients with erosive esophagitis. As such, PPIs are the preferred option for long-term GERD treatment.
Developed by Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company and global industry leader Takeda, dexlansoprazole is the first and only PPI with a dual delayed release (DDR) formulation, enabling the once-a-day capsule to provide 24-hour acid control. Extended duration of action is key to providing round-the-clock heartburn relief, improved sleep and high healing rates of erosive gastritis. Long-term maintenance of erosive esophagitis healing improves patients’ quality of life.