I had the Nissen surgery in the mid-90s. For the most part, it has been a success, but I have had a few scares. Looking over this page, I see a LOT of side effects that weren’t really talked about back when I had the procedure. I don’t know if my advice will help everyone, but I’ll give it a shot:
- Eat SLOWLY. Seriously. Chew your food. Sip your drinks. Take it easy. Scarfing down your food is a very bad idea.
- Eat less. I know it’s tough to get used to, but you really will be better off eating smaller meals/snacks five or six times a day. It’s a lifestyle change. Portions are HUGE in the U.S., and it’s one of the reasons we’re one of the fattest countries in the world. Make a conscious effort to eat much, much smaller portions.
- Stop eating before you feel full. Just MAKE yourself stop. Chances are you’ll feel full a few minutes after you stop anyway. I’ve read that our brains are actually pretty slow at telling us when we should feel full.
- Change your diet. Stop with the fried foods. Go easy on the sweets. Drastically lower your sodium intake. Try eating more fruits and veggies. Based on what my nutritionist told me, I try to get about 80 grams of healthy protein each day. (This number may be different for different people in different situations. I’m not a doctor.) Chicken, turkey, quinoa, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils…this stuff is all pretty high in protein.
- Burp. Often. Really. I know there are some social problems with this, but, for me, getting all of that excess gas out of my stomach really seems to help with 95 percent of the discomfort. I lived heartburn-free for about 10 years, and then symptoms started coming back within the past few years. I actually had a few scares—and a couple of ER visits because my heart was racing, and I thought I was having a heart attack. And my heart rate was up, but not anywhere near the “red zone.” Turns out I just needed to burp. I had a huge gas bubble trapped in my stomach. Several large belches later, my heart rate was down and my heartburn was gone. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like the gas-bloat syndrome associated with Nissen tends to reconfigure things down there and cause all kinds of problems. Without a release valve drilled into your abdomen, the next best thing is simply burping. Gas-alleviating meds like Gas-X don’t seem to work well on me.
- Don’t go hungry. A stomach full of acid is a disaster waiting to happen. This is where those frequent smaller meals help again. Also, I take one 40mg Nexium pill once a day, and combined with these other practices it seems to help. I’m actually thinking about quitting the Nexium because things have been going so well lately (and it’s kind of expensive). On rare occasions, I take some Pepto Bismol before bedtime. I get gassy when I go for a long time without eating. For some reason, lying down on my left side seems to help with this.
- Exercise. Get in shape. I know it’s a no-brainer, but this really does help. And I’ve found that a good run really gets me burping : ) I’m like a baby again, I guess. I just need to be burped.
I don’t know if stuff will help with some of the more serious concerns on this page, but I think it’s worth a shot. You really need to make some lifestyle changes to deal with the aftereffects of Nissen, but we should all be eating right and exercising anyway. Worst-case scenario: you get in better shape. My heart really goes out to those with the more serious side effects. You’re all in my prayers.