Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), the medical term for “Acid Reflux” is defined as the product of abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus thus, creating a mucosal damage, likewise known as the chronic symptom. This disease strikes adult primarily, while infants and children can also be affected. Normally spurred by eating certain foods, if not pregnancy, or taking a sleep right after eating a heavy meal, a large number of persons suffer from acid reflux at one time or another. Heartburn or acid indigestion is another name that refers to acid reflux. Heartburn, the major symptom of Acid Reflux in the esophagus, is described to cause a burning uneasiness at the back of the sternum. The symptoms may come as coughing, voice transformation, hoarseness, constant ear ache, or sinusitis. The complications brought upon by acid reflux may lead to esophageal ulcers or worse this can lead to esophageal cancer.
However, constant heartburn sensations do not necessarily mean that one has captured GERD already. The risk occurs when heartburn happened more than once a week, this occasion could possibly lead in developing GERD. The usual cause of GERD is the increase in acidity or gastric acid production in the body, obesity, pregnancy, or tight-fitting apparels, these all can add to the problem. The yeast infections are also thought to be one of the causes of GERD-like symptoms. An added ironical cause of the GERD is the insufficient production of stomach acid in the body. The explanation says that the valve, the hollow organ with a flap that insure the one-way course of fluid through the organ, once emptied triggers acidity in the intestines. If the valve fails to open, the contents of the stomach will be blended into the esophagus, and then irritation occurs.
Meanwhile, there are already several treatments for GERD today, one of which is the balance and healthy eating habits. Now if proper diet fails to work, one can shift to medication therapy or surgery as suggested by the doctors. Below are the lists of several selections of Acid Reflux treatment:
- Proper Diet: the natural way to cure Acid Reflux is through change in their eating habits. A good number of people affected by GERD found success in following this method. Avoid the food ingredients which can intensify heart burn such as caffeine, soft drinks, and smoking. Avoid eating two hours before sleeping; likewise, avoid lying down after taking meal. These are the regular suggested change in lifestyle.
- Another easy way to treat GERD is to elevate the head of the bed. The pharmacologic therapy, the combination of prevention of food two hours before sleeping and the rise of the head of the bed, there is a great chance for a patient to gain a 95 percent relief. The rise of the head of the bed is suggested to range for only 6 to 8 inches or 20 cm. Using this method the backflow of gastric fluids will be hampered.
- Drug Treatment: Drugs reduce the secretion of the gastric acid, for instance and famotidine and omeprazole lessen the secretion of gastric acid and the Antacids counteract the acid.
- Surgical treatment: the Nissen fundoplication, the standard surgical treatment for Acid Reflux, the medication process will only cover a short period of time. The function of this is to support the sphincter, a spherical bond of muscles that opens and closes to let the food or waste to pass, as well as stop Acid Reflux, and of course restore the hiatal hernia.
Acid reflux disease is a condition in which the stomach acids abnormally reflux into the esophagus. This phenomenon is irregularly experienced by most people, most especially after eating. Our body uses gastric and stomach acids to break down the food that we eat. Normally, after the digestion in the stomach, the food is delivered by the digestive muscles to the intestines for extra digestion. But in patients who have acid reflux disease, the acidic stomach contents are moved back to the esophagus, which then causes inflammation. Cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, pregnancy, and fatty foods are some factors which worsens acid reflux conditions. Our present knowledge about acid reflux based on medical researches tells us that this disease is common in men as it is in women. There is no sexual preference. Moreover, the prevalence of acid reflux is more frequent in people of 40 years of age or more. Symptoms of acid reflux may be typical or atypical. But based on the diagnosis of acid reflux patients, only 70% of those who have this disease manifest typical symptoms.
Typical or esophageal symptoms concern indicators which are related with the esophagus. Such symptoms include the following:
Heartburn. This is a condition in which the patient feels a painful burning feeling in the esophagus. The pain often develops in the chest and may swell to the neck or throat. This is most probable to occur in relation with these activities: after a heavy meal, lifting, bending over, and lying down. Based on one study, about 75% of acid reflux patients experience this symptom at night. These nigh-time patients also tend to experience more harsh pain than those whose symptom occurs at other times.
Dyspepsia. Researches show that about half of acid reflux patients have dyspepsia. This is a syndrome which consists of pain and distress in the upper abdomen, nausea after a meal, and stomach fullness. It is not a rule however, that those who have dyspepsia have acid reflux.
Regurgitation. This is when the gastric contents back up into the pharynx and sometimes as far as the mouth. In cases where the acids have spilled into the tracheobronchial tree, respiratory complications can be stimulated.
There are many instances, though, that acid reflux patients do not manifest symptoms such as regurgitation and heartburn. Instead, they experience atypical or extraesophageal symptoms which include the following:
Throat Symptoms. Although it does not commonly happen, acid reflux patients suffer from symptoms that occur in the throat. Hoarseness, the feeling of having a lump in the throat, dry cough are undergone by those who have acid laryngitis, a throat symptom. Patients can also have difficulty in swallowing, a condition known as dysphagia. In critical cases, the food may get trapped in the throat or even choke, which can result to a severe chest pain. Other throat symptoms are chronic sore throat and persistent hiccups.
Vomiting and Nausea. When a patient suffers from nausea which persists for weeks, he may have acid reflux. There are few instances where vomiting can occur as often as once a day.
Respiratory Symptoms. Coughing and wheezing are counted as respiratory symptoms. These result from the overrunning of the stomach acids into the tracheobronchial tree creating bronchoconstriction.
Acid reflux disease can last for several months if not given proper medical attention. Drug treatment may only be required for a short time. But when the symptoms tend to repetitively occur, the drug treatment may have to be reapplied.
In a normal digestive process, the partially digested food is being forwarded by muscular movements from the stomach to the intestines. However, for some people, the stomach contents travel back to the esophagus from the stomach. This condition is known as acid reflux. Common symptoms of this disease include heartburn, difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation, chest pains, dental erosion, hoarseness, asthma, dyspepsia, vomiting, and many others. If not properly treated, acid reflux can last for several months. But drug treatment can play an essential part in the treatment process of a patient.
The most common medications used include the following:
Antacids. These drugs are used to neutralize the acids in the digestive tract and are primarily taken in for relief of mild symptoms, such as occasional episodes of indigestion and heartburn. They also act to incite the defensive mechanisms of our stomach by building up the secretion of mucous and bicarbonate. Most antacids can be bought over the counter even without a medical prescription. Moreover, these drugs are one of the first to be recommended by professionals to lessen the pain brought about by heartburn or mild symptoms. The three basic ingredients of antacids are magnesium, calcium, and aluminum.
Acid suppressants such as histamine blockers are also commonly used. Histamine blockers obstruct the production of stomach acids by alienating the actions of histamine. Histamine is a chemical in the body that promotes the production and secretion of acids in the stomach. Anti-histamines are available even without prescription and offers relief of symptoms in most of the patients with frequent acid reflux. Patients have to wait for 30 to 90 minutes for these drugs to take effect. But their effect also lasts six to 24 hours. In cases of severe symptoms, a patient may have to take two dosages a day. In some researches, histamine blockers have shown to improve asthmatic symptoms in those who endure from both acid reflux and asthma.
However, in a study dated 2001, it was suggested that histamine blockers occasionally impart complete relief of symptoms for dyspepsia and heartburn.
Proton pump inhibitors are also employed as a medication. They act to trim down the production of stomach acids by reacting with the cells found in the stomach wall which produce and release acids into the stomach. However, researches have revealed that the use of proton pump inhibitors poses some concerns. Side effects, although uncommon, include diarrhea, headache, itching, and nausea. Moreover, these drugs should also be stayed away from by pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.
Another medication that is generally handled is the use of agents which protect the mucus lining in the gastrointestinal region. This kind of drug acts by attaching to an ulcer crater so that it will be guarded from damage caused by digestive acids. It is advisable for people undergoing maintenance therapy with mild or moderate acid reflux conditions. Likewise, it has minor side effects, including constipation.
Anti-spasm drugs are also utilized to prevent acid and even non-acid reflux. A gamma-amino acid butyric acid agonist, an anti-spasm drug is generally used to abate the spasms in the muscles. Unlike most medicines used for acid reflux, it can also lessen non-acid refluxes and amplify the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach and prevents backing up of stomach contents. Alcohol lovers would often love to match their drink with spicy dishes and greasy and fatty foods. The perfect combination makes the drinking perfect to the palate. Unfortunately though, this is bad for the esophagus and the stomach. The alcohol, the spicy dishes and the greasy and fatty foods causes acid reflux or also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Other causes of acid reflux are pregnancy, genetic influences, presence of infection in the gastrointestinal tract, and the Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
The Gastrointestinal System of the body is composed of the following: the oral cavity, the esophagus, the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and the anus. The main function of the Gastrointestinal System is to digest food particles, absorb digestive juices and eliminate undigested materials which are of course the feces.
The acid reflux affects the stomach and the esophagus. This occurs when the liquid from the stomach which contains pepsin, an irritating substance produced by the chief cells goes up to the esophagus passing through the cardiac sphincter. The cardiac sphincter is the opening to the stomach from the esophagus. Its function is to prevent reflux of the substances in the stomach because these substances cause esophageal irritation and ulcer. If the cardiac sphincter fails to close after receiving food from the esophagus, acid reflux occurs.
Acid reflux is a chronic condition. Once a person suffers from it, it becomes a life-long ordeal. Injury in the esophagus also is a chronic condition. Even if the esophagus has healed with treatment and it is being stopped, the injury will return in most patients within a few months. Once treatment for said illness is begun, it usually needs to be continued indefinitely.
Normally, liquid reflux in the stomach occurs to a healthy individual. However, people with the acid reflux or GERD, has more acid in the liquid. This may be caused by the genetic influences, specifically, an increased number of parietal cells which produce pepsin in the stomach. The body has mechanisms to protect itself from the harmful effects of reflux and acid. Most reflux happens during the day when individuals are upright. In said position, the refluxed liquid is more likely to flow back down into the stomach due to gravity. Moreover, while individuals are awake, they continually swallow, regardless if there is reflux or not. Each time individuals swallow the reflux liquid slide back into the stomach. The last body defense to reflux is the salivary glands in the mouth. These glands produce saliva, which contains bicarbonate. Every time an individual swallows, the bicarbonate-containing saliva slides down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus.
Basically, acid reflux medicines inhibit the production or release of pepsin produced by the chief cells and hydrochloric acid produced by the parietal cells in the stomach. Other medicines may not totally inhibit the production but they neutralize the acid. The acid reflux medicines are the Histamine Blockers or the H2 receptor antagonists. Histamine stimulates a pump in the stomach that releases hydrochloric acid. The H2 receptor antagonists prevent the histamine from stimulating this pump. They block the production of the hydrochloric acid thereby reducing secretion and concentration into the stomach. Did you know that unhealthy eating habits can cause acid reflux? Based on scientific research, anyone, even infants and young children have a tendency to have acid reflux. This disorder is most common in infants and young children but in time, disappears. Acid reflux known also as gastro-esophageal reflux disease can definitely affect adults too. This is a disorder that could happen anytime especially to someone who had just had a large meal with lots of acidic foods or even someone with history of acid reflux, thus, having recurrences of the disorder due to unhealthy eating patterns. Unhealthy diet and an inappropriate eating schedule can cause acid reflux. As a person consumes a heavy meal, full of acid foods, an abnormality in the stomach can occur like bringing back the food induced to the esophagus and throat. Acid reflux is unexplainable to many because this condition can occur anytime but are most likely to occur after several heavy meals or unhealthy eating habits. Many people with acid reflux can control their condition by means of medical treatment and even appropriate diet. Some people with a severe condition of acid reflux should consider surgical procedures because for most people, acid reflux surgery is the best solutions for this disorder. There are several surgical procedures that acid reflux patients can choose from. The most effective and safe acid reflux surgeries are Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery, also known as Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication and Intraluminal Endoscopic surgery that most patients encounter.
Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication, or fundoplication for short, is the most common form of acid reflux surgery. This surgery is performed by tightening the walls of the esophagus in the area next to the stomach then adding pressure to the lower esophageal muscles. When the pressure increased between the stomach and esophagus, this medical procedure prevents the content of the stomach to go upward inside the throat and esophagus. Another method mostly considered by other patients with acid reflux is having the esophageal valve tightened in order to seal the esophagus and prevent gastric acid to enter. Intraluminal endoscopic acid reflux surgery is another acid reflux surgery that most patients prefer. This surgical procedure has the same procedure as the fundoplication except that it involves a small optical, tubular instrument that is needed to be inserted in the body and at the same time, view the inner parts of the body that needs surgical or biopsy attention thus allowing an actual biopsy or surgery to be performed. This is possible through the so called endoscope. Intraluminal endoscopic acid reflux surgery is quick and has minimal risks for the patients. As such, a post-operatory treatment is not required but allows possibly fast recovery for patients as well.
Because of medical advancement and millions of modern treatments, acid reflux can now be treated. Patients who wish to rid of acid reflux can do so because of the options given to them through possible medications, proper diet or surgery. Likewise, surgery is most recommended to people with chronic acid reflux but is now available to patients with less serious conditions of acid reflux. Henceforth, surgical procedures have been the most common way of getting rid of acid reflux completely and permanently. In mind, patients that are considering surgery will have quick recovery after the surgical procedures and will no longer have acid reflux.
Be Aware of Acid Reflux by Learning its Symptoms
Every day, the digestive system is always being used due to regular food and liquid intake. When food and drinks are induced, it goes through a passage called the esophagus that helps breakdown the food. When food reaches its destination or the stomach, acid and pepsin is released to help aid in the process of digestion. If and ever a problem in the digestive system occur, many people often neglect these possible problem by using home remedial treatment to aid with digestive problems. However, a common digestive disease that most people have neglected and encountered is the acid reflux or heartburn. This digestive disease or disorder occurs when the esophagus is irritated by the acid regurgitating to the stomach while acid is being seeped back through the esophagus and throat. There are different kinds of digestive disease but the most common of all is acid reflux or gastro- esophageal reflux disease known also as heartburn. There are symptoms to indicate if you have acid reflux. These symptoms will likely help an individual indicate whether they have acid reflux. The most common symptoms that acid reflux is associated with is the searing sensation in the digestive tract, usually the chest or throat, that individuals will encounter. Even symptoms of hoarseness, acid in the mouth, sour or bitter taste, wheezing and coughing are also symptoms of acid reflux. Luckily, acid reflux has special characteristics that are most helpful in indicating its existence. These characteristics involve particular activity to be avoided; such as avoid lying down or bending over, while other individuals have difficulty when eating. Others, however, have tried physical activity like exercise to be rid of acid reflux but unfortunately, even exercise can not ease the symptoms. Most likely, use of antacids can be helpful and can actually ease the symptoms of acid reflux. As such, symptoms of acid reflux are often mistaken for symptoms of a heart attack.
Acid reflux disease can happen to all ages including infants and young children. Although infants have a tendency to have acid reflux or heartburn, this condition usually fades in time while young children can develop acid reflux like other adults. Usually in adults, acid reflux is caused by poor diet, lack of physical activity, and even lifestyle. There are other factors that could also cause acid reflux. These factors are most common during pregnancy because women in this stage have increased hormone levels and in sense, the stomach is being pressured due to pregnancy. Also, obesity, overeating, some beverages and medications, and particular foods are also factors that can cause acid reflux. A person who thinks he or she has acid reflux should learn more of the symptoms caused by it. In this way, individuals can indicate this condition and take certain precautions to prevent possible occurrences due to acid reflux. For a fact, the best way to avoid acid reflux or heartburn is through prevention. By doing so, individuals will be able to avoid occurrences of acid reflux and at the same time, have a healthy lifestyle.
Facts About Acid Reflux Treatment
Man can't possibly live without food, which is a true and a proven fact. Food provides the body with all the needed nutrients and energy for a man to do all his daily activities.
People know that the digestive system, particularly the stomach, digests all the food taken in by the body. Acids found inside the stomach decompose it, turning it to amino acids and proteins. The acids can't harm the stomach because it contains a protective membrane which protects it from the acids. If you listened well to your elementary teacher, you already know that the esophagus is where the food passes through before it reaches the stomach. The esophagus has no protective layer like that of the stomach. So when acid from the stomach is able to penetrate the esophagus, the walls are easily burned. The sensation that you will likely feel is called heartburn. Heartburn is the first symptom that most people with acid reflux experience. If acid reflux remains untreated, it will just get severe. The next thing that you might experience is regurgitation, wherein the food that you just ate will go back to your mouth. The chest pain will get worse, you will have difficulty in swallowing the food, until finally, you might get asthma, and when the acid reaches your mouth, it will naturally corrode your teeth. But don’t worry. Acid reflux can be cured but it would greatly depend on the severity of the disease. A small valve, called lower esophageal (LES), can be found in between the esophagus and the stomach. When it does not function properly, you'll suffer from acid reflux. The heartburn sensation is due to the rising acid level with which the esophageal lining can't withstand.
The treatment of this condition can be done through medical therapy, and surgical methods. The treatment is aimed at eliminating acid reflux completely from our system. The cure for acid reflux is antacids. Most people use this more often, and it comes in tablet or liquid form. Some prefer the liquid from more because it is easily consumed. You can take antacids after you've eaten, probably after 30 minutes to one hour. Other antacids in tablet form create a foam-layer inside the stomach, so that acidic juices can't penetrate through it. But make sure that you chew the tablet well so that its maximum healing properties will be released. Some medications are focused in strengthening the lower esophageal muscle, and this greatly reduces acid reflux. It would be best to ask a doctor before taking any kind of medication. The doctor can assess the severity of the acid reflux, and will be able to give you the appropriate treatment.
Most doctors recommend a change in diet to those who suffer from acid reflux. Though this may be difficult to some, they have no other choice unless they want to worsen their condition. Don’t wait until you need a surgical method to cure your condition. It is best to start curing acid reflux as soon as you discover that you're suffering from it. If in any case you've experienced the symptoms of acid reflux, immediately consult a doctor. Gather as much information about acid reflux, to help you in better understanding your condition. The doctor can provide you with the correct diagnosis and the needed treatment.