When we talk about Acid Reflux, the common term that instantly comes in our mind is heartburn. But what we don't know is that heartburn is the first symptom of acid reflux. There are also common mistakes about heartburn. People thought that the pain they felt comes from the heart. However, the truth is the pain is due to the acid in your stomach.
Okay, let's talk about acid reflux. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or commonly known as acid reflux, is a condition in which the liquid form of the food you ate regurgitates or flows upward into the esophagus. The reflux exposes the walls of the esophagus to the gastric contents, which causes inflammation of the esophageal wall. GERD is considered a chronic disease which can be experienced by any age group and sexes.
The inability of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to fully close or its inappropriate relaxation is the main cause of GERD. The lower esophageal sphincter acts as the divider between the esophagus and the stomach. When this happens, acidic contents from the stomach during regurgitation is not blocked causing heartburn.
Other causes include eating fatty foods, caffeine, nicotine, hiatal hernia, and slow emptying of the stomach.
There are also risk factors that may cause acid reflux like:
• Consuming large meals
• Lying down after meal
• Being an overweight
• Being pregnant
The usual symptoms of GERD are:
• Chest pain or heart burn
• Dysphagia or inability to swallow
• Odynophagia or pain during swallowin
• Sore throat
Diagnostic examination helps in confirming the condition. Doctors may order test which include:
• Barium swallow - The gastrointestinal system is evaluated by swallowing an agent then an X-ray is ordered to view the structures of system.
• Endoscopy - It is a test in which a long and flexible tube is inserted down to the esophagus to check esophageal problem. In this procedure, sedatives are given to the patient prior to the insertion.
• pH monitoring - It's another test which checks the acid level of the esophagus.
Management and Treatments
Management and treatment of acid reflux include:
• Lifestyle Modification
The simple way of treating GERD is through lifestyle change, especially in the food that you are eating. Avoiding spicy and fatty food, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, citrus fruits, and dairy products may reduce the occurrence of the symptoms. Changing bad eating habits such as bending over after eating, lying down with a full stomach, and using tight garments around the waist will also help eliminating the symptoms.
• Medication Evaluation
According to the studies of World Health Organization (WHO), proton-pump inhibitors and histamine inhibitors are the recommended medications for GERD. This medication suppresses the gastric acid secretion in the stomach which controls the symptoms of GERD. It includes Cimetidine, Ranitidine, and Omeprazole.
Untreated acid reflux can cause complications like esophagitis, the inflammation of the esophageal wall; Barrett's esophagus, where the cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal color and shape; moreover, the cells can lead into esophageal cancer, which is very fatal. When complication arises, make sure to call and inform your physician immediately.
With lifestyle modifications and medications, treating acid reflux is never difficult.