From Incorrect self diagnosis to Treatment: My Silent Reflux Journey – Fundoplication & Hiatal Hernia Repair

For the past two to three years, I’ve been battling a relentless, chronic sore throat. Initially attributing it to sinus issues, I took over-the-counter medication and hoped for the best. However, the sore throat persisted, and little did I know, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

After months of self-medication with no improvement, I finally decided to consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT). The ENT recommended a nasal endoscopy – a procedure where a flexible tube is inserted through the nose into the throat. This would allow the doctor to visualize my nasal passages and throat in detail. The results were surprising: acid reflux was the culprit behind my persistent sore throat. But that’s not all – during my consultation, I was also diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that intermittently stops breathing during sleep.

This double diagnosis was alarming. Determined to find a solution, I consulted an Upper GI surgeon. After a series of tests, including an upper endoscopy (a procedure where a thin, flexible tube is used to examine the digestive tract), the diagnosis was confirmed. I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and a hiatal hernia.

Unlike most people who experience typical symptoms like heartburn or a burning sensation in the chest, I had what is known as ‘silent reflux’ or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). This condition is called ‘silent’ because the usual symptoms of acid reflux are absent. Instead, LPR causes symptoms like a chronic cough, hoarseness, and, in my case, a persistent sore throat.

Silent reflux can be dangerous due to the prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid. This can lead to conditions like Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous state where the cells lining the esophagus change due to continuous irritation. If left untreated, Barrett’s esophagus can develop into esophageal cancer.

This realisation made me decide to opt for surgery. But before I delve into the details of the procedure, let’s discuss why these conditions occur.

Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle acting as a valve between the esophagus and stomach, weakens or relaxes abnormally. This allows stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and damage to the esophageal lining.

A hiatal hernia happens when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm, the muscle separating the chest from the abdomen. This condition exacerbates acid reflux as the hernia makes it easier for the stomach contents to back up into the esophagus.

In my case, I had both conditions – a veritable double whammy. The combination of GERD and a hiatal hernia meant that my body needed surgical intervention.

The required procedure was a combination of hernia repair and fundoplication surgery. Fundoplication involves folding the top part of the stomach, the fundus, and sewing it around the LES. This strengthens the sphincter, making it less likely for stomach acid to flow into the esophagus.

There are two options for fundoplication surgery depending on the severity of acid reflux: a complete 360 wrap (Nissen fundoplication) or a 270 wrap (Toupet fundoplication). After a thorough discussion with my surgeon about the potential side effects, including difficulty swallowing and bloating, I chose the Toupet option. This procedure is less likely to cause complications but is still effective in treating GERD.

My journey towards health has been an eye-opener. It taught me the importance of listening to my body and seeking medical advice when something doesn’t feel right. It also highlighted the fact that not all health conditions present with textbook symptoms. Silent reflux, as its name implies, can silently damage your body without causing noticeable discomfort.

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, do not hesitate to consult a professional. Your health is priceless, and early detection is key to preventing serious complications. As for me, I’m on the road to recovery, thankful for the medical intervention that diagnosed and treated my silent reflux.

Remember, health is wealth. Listen to your body, seek help when needed, and take proactive steps towards maintaining your well-being.

Continuing from where I left off, I am currently on day five post-surgery. The journey has been a roller-coaster of emotions, filled with apprehension, relief, and hope.

Almost instantly after the surgery, the chronic sore throat that had plagued me for years disappeared. It was as if a massive burden had been lifted, replaced with a newfound sense of optimism. The persistent discomfort that had been my constant companion was gone, replaced by a strange but welcome feeling of normalcy.

I was initially concerned about potential post-operative issues, such as difficulty burping or swallowing – common side effects of fundoplication surgery. To my relief, I’ve been able to burp (albeit mini ones for now) and swallow liquid and soft mushy food without any problems. Of course, there’s a little soreness, which is to be expected after undergoing such a procedure. But it’s a small price to pay for the immense relief I feel.

Recovery is a process, and every day brings me one step closer to complete healing. With each passing day, I can feel myself getting stronger and more comfortable. My body is healing, and with it, the fear and uncertainty that had once clouded my mind are fading away.

As I write this, I’m filled with gratitude for the medical professionals who helped diagnose and treat my condition. Their expertise and care have given me a new lease on life. I also want to stress the importance of listening to your body and seeking medical advice when something doesn’t feel right. It’s easy to dismiss symptoms or attribute them to less serious conditions, but timely medical intervention can make all the difference.

My battle with silent reflux has taught me many things. It’s shown me the importance of health, the value of professional medical advice, and the strength of the human spirit. I’m positive that I will be back to my normal self in no time, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

So, if you’re reading this and you’ve been ignoring a persistent symptom or putting off a visit to your doctor, take this as a sign. Listen to your body, prioritize your health, and remember – it’s never too late to seek help.

As I continue my recovery journey, I am open to sharing more about my experiences and offering insights where I can. If you’re curious about my journey, or if you’re going through something similar and need someone to talk to, feel free to message me on Instagram. You can find me at @Marcusgkr.

Remember, you are not alone in your health struggles. Sometimes, sharing our stories and hearing about others’ experiences can provide the comfort and motivation we need to keep going. So don’t hesitate to reach out – I’m here to help in any way that I can.

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