What is Acid re-flux?
How can you tell that you are suffering from an acid reflux disease?
Acid reflux is a very common problem that is faced in daily life. This happens when the food from the stomach flows back into your food pipe into your throat. This leads to various discomfort like the heartburn or bloating sensation etc.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is diagnosed when you have the reflex more than twice a week. This disease affects more than 30 % of the world population and the most commonly seen disorder.
Normally at the stomach entrance there is a ring of muscle called as lower esophageal sphincter muscle which closes the entrance of the stomach immediately as the food enters into the stomach but if this sphincter some times become dysfunctional and opens often then this will lead the food to enter back into the food pipe(esophagus) leading to heartburn or chest pain mimicking a heart attack.
This stomach liquid which high amounts of acids can cause inflammation and further damage the lining of the esophagus (esophagitis).
This regurgitated liquid which is containing acid and pepsin are produced by the stomach. (Pepsin is an enzyme that helps for the digestion of the protein in the stomach.)
This refluxed liquid also may contain bile that has backed-up into the stomach from the duodenum( The first part of the small intestine attached to the stomach).
This Acid is believed to be injurious along with Pepsin and bile to the esophagus.
Our body has various ways to protect itself from these harmful effects of reflux and acid.
For example, most reflux occurs during the day when individuals are upright. during the upright position, the refluxed liquid is more likely to flow back down into the stomach due to the effect of gravity. In addition, while individuals are awake, they repeatedly swallow, whether or not there is reflux. Each swallow carries any refluxed liquid back into the stomach. Finally, the salivary glands in the mouth produce saliva, which contains bicarbonate. With each swallow, bicarbonate-containing saliva travels down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus after gravity and swallowing have removed most of the acidic liquid.
Gravity, swallowing, and saliva are important protective mechanisms for the esophagus, but they are effective only when individuals are in the upright position. At night during sleep, gravity has no effect, swallowing stops, and the secretion of saliva is reduced. Therefore, reflux that occurs at night is more likely to result in acid remaining in the esophagus longer and causing greater damage to the esophagus.
Common risk factors for GERD:
- Having being obese or overweight
- Taking medications like the pain killers(analgesics) or muscle relaxants, drugs for asthma, antidepressants
- Pregnant stress and anxiety
Diet factors that are associated with the development of the GERD:
- A high intake of table salt
- A diet low in dietary fiber
- Eating large meals
- Lying down within 2 to 3 hours of eating a meal
- Consuming chocolate, carbonated drinks, and acidic juices
- Taking spicy, oily food items
Common symptoms and signs for GERD:
- Chest burn/ heart burn- a feeling of discomfort that passes from the stomach to your chest or even towards your throat
- Regulation – a bitter taste of acid into the mouth
- Bloating sensation in the stomach
- Obstructive sensation in the throat
- Burping recurrently/ hiccups
- Blood vomiting / black stools
- Nausea or vomiting
- Wheezing, cough
- Hoarseness of voice and sore throat
- Apthous ulcers in the mouth and throat
Complications of the GERD:
If left untreated there are various health issues that one can go through :
- Ulcers and stricter in the stomach and esophagus(food pipe)
- Barrettes esophagus(pre-cancerous condition)
- Cough and asthma
- Sinusitis and ear infections
- Lung infections
Your Doctor may arrange the following investigations for diagnosing of GERD:
- Endoscopy: camera imaging
- Biopsy: taking a tissue sample for laboratory analysis
- Barium X-ray: imaging the esophagus, stomach, and upper duodenum after swallowing a chalky liquid that helps provide contrast on images
- Esophageal manometry: pressure measurement of the esophagus
- Impedance monitoring: measuring rate of fluid movement along the esophagus
- PH monitoring: acidity testing
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