Oesophageal Patients Association
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Refux problems

Hi, I an 6 months post IL and not doing too bad - I was lucky not to have full blown cancer but pre cancer cells. I had a series of ablation treatments over about a year but in the end they could not get instruments down due to narrowing of my gullet from the treatment. I was offered IL as the only way of solving the problem. My Surgeon and team were wonderful at Manchester Royal Infirmary. I am 68 and was very fit before op. I have been Woking on my fitness and with the help of my two dogs walk a total of 2 1/2 hours per day and have also started to get back to swimming and next year my goal is to get back to road cycling with hubby. I have not been able to get my weight up and have lost just under a stone but my weight is stable and my surgeon says that is a good thing. My question is to do with refux is it more likely to happen if you eat too large a meal to what you are used to? I seem to have nights where I am coughing and bringing up foamy bile and then feeling shattered next day. Look forward to any advice


6 Replies

The reflux is more likely when you are lying down (because of gravity allowing stomach contents to flow towards your throat); and indeed it is more likely if you have had a large meal, especially if you have eaten late in the evening. It is to do with the time that your stomach is holding the semi-digested food before it goes further down into your system, and it is smaller than it was before the operation anyway. So eating little and often is a general golden rule if you have had an oesophagectomy.

The foamy stuff might be combatted with Domperidone, but you have to make sure you take it at the right interval before you eat. And there is medication to combat bile, like Sucralfate. I think I would contact the specialist nurse to get this sorted out rather than waiting for the next routine appointment.

You will continue to feel really tired, and it takes a long time to regain optimum strength and fitness. Coughing and lack of sleep can be really tiring, and one tends to feel fatigued the following day. But normally things do gradually continue to improve.

Raising the head of your bed is a good thing for most with night time reflux. People do try putting blocks under the head of the bed, pillows, or adjustable beds (eg from Ikea). Lying on a duvet can help against slipping down during the night as can memory foam mattress toppers. It is trial and error.

Gaviscon beside the bed is also a useful tip for reflux.

I think the surgeon was quite right about your weight. If it is stable, you may just be settling down to a new normal weight for yourself. Trying to eat to put on weight will be an absolute nightmare. Just make sure that you take in a good level of nutrition. Some people do lose many more times the weight you have lost and get on quite OK.

It sounds like you are doing remarkably well, but your body dictates the speed of recovery and this will often take far longer than our natural level of patience would like.


Thanks so much for you reply and I will take your advic and get in touch with my Specialist nurse. I do appreciate all your comments. Life is so precious and it takes something like this to bring it home to you. Off for a gentle kayak tomorrow with hubby and friends as here in the Lake District the sun is to shine all weekend, hope it is with you also.


Is your spelling of this unpleasant condition intentional??

The wonderful Alan has given you exactly the advice my husband followed, nearly 5 years ago now. The best thing we did was to get an electric bed which raises the head and shoulders; my husband has been lucky and has managed to avoid reflux since.

It's still early days after this big op. But you seem to be doing amazingly well on the activity front. Good luck.

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Whops not intentional! Thanks for responding and pleased to hear that your husband has no reflux problems now. Thinking of getting a memory foam mattress topper to start with. Thanks again for your response.

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I am a year past my Ivor for cancer which was caused by continuing reflux over a period of years. For a month after surgery I had no reflux but it returned with a vengeance and stayed. I take a PPI daily, ranitidine as needed, but have found chewing gum particularly helpful and particularly right after meals. Don't overeat-- it is the primary cause of coughing and vomiting. Best of luck and health. Worth


Thanks so much for your response and your advice. Don't normally chew gum but if it works for you I will give it a try. Take care and thanks again.


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