Acid Reflux Disease also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Gastro – Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) is a condition wherein the Lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close or is always open permitting acidic content of the stomach to move all the way up to the esophagus. As you eat, the food from the mouth passes through the esophagus and enters the stomach through a doorway which is the lower esophageal sphincter. Once the food is inside the stomach, the sphincter normally closes to prevent the food or other acids that is secreted by the stomach from going up, however in this case, it doesn’t close which therefore causing acid reflux.
Did you know?
Did you know the heart is not the organ involved with the term “heartburn”? Acid reflux disease causes the symptom commonly called “heartburn”. However, in this case, the heart is not involved but the esophagus. Acids that came out of the stomach and went all the way up the esophagus irritate it and cause a burning sensation. Since the pain and burning sensation is felt near the heart or in the chest area, it is mistakenly called heartburn but for all we know, it should be “oesophageal burn”.
Did you know that acid reflux is different from heartburn? Acid reflux is the movement of acid or gastric juices from the stomach into the esophagus while heartburn is the pain or sensation felt when it moves up.
Symptoms of acid reflux include the following:
- Chest pain
- Regurgitation of bitter fluid on your mouth
- Frequent Hiccups
- Sore throat
- Bloated feeling
- Dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing
- Odynophagia or pain upon swallowing
- Increased salivation
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Hoarseness of voice
If these symptoms occur twice a week or last for a long period of time, you better seek the help of your physician to further evaluate your condition as this may indicate of having a Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
Acid Reflux treatment
When you felt the symptoms stated above more frequently, seek the help of a licensed gastroenterologist or someone who is specializing in this field.
Diagnostic Procedures such as the following may be prescribed:
- Ambulatory Esophageal pH monitoring
- Barium swallow
- X – ray
- Esophageal Manometry
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
Factors that Contribute to Acid Reflux
- Bending Forward
Bending forward immediately after a meal can increase the chance of opening the lower oesophageal sphincter which can cause reflux of gastric juices into the esophagus.
- Large meals
Large meals taken especially at night can cause acid reflux for the bigger the meals you eat, the more acid the stomach will produce and the higher the chance for it to reflux. Therefore, meals should be cut in portion so the stomach will only produce the acid that will be needed for digestion. Sleeping immediately after eating should also be avoided the gastric contents have a higher possibility of backing up when the individual is in a supine or flat position.
When the baby grows up inside the mother’s womb, it pushes up the stomach and the intestines so it can be accommodated therefore, the stomach contents may move all the way up into the esophagus. However, this can be prevented when the mother eats small but frequent meals per day. No big meals should be served to prevent the reflux but she can eat frequently allowing the stomach to accommodate and digest well the food that is introduced. After the baby is born, acid reflux disappears in most cases.
- Hiatal Hernia
When a part of the upper stomach sticks out or protrudes into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm, it is called
Hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the upper stomach sticks out into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm caused by vomiting, physical exertion and severe or forceful coughing.
Research show that the chemicals you get from smoking can stimulate and increase the production of gastric juices in the stomach which weakens the esophageal sphincter that leads to acid reflux. It is also proven that it slows down the digestion of food in the stomach giving the stomach longer time to empty and thus increasing the pressure on it, and when the pressure increases, the esophageal sphincter might not be able to hold it and cause the gastric content to reflux.
- Sleeping on your left side or upper body raised to 30 degrees with pillow
- Eat small but frequent meals
- Avoid sleeping immediately after meals
- Avoid bedtime snacks
- Lose weight
- Avoid acidic foods such as citrus, spicy foods, coffee, onions, peppermint, tea, chocolate especially before sleep
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol
Medications commonly prescribed for the disease are as follows:
- Protom pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole, rabeprazole
- H2 receptor blockers such as famotidine, cimetidine and ranitidine
- Antacids before eals
- Prokinetics such as cisapride and metoclopramide
- Sucralfate (Carafate)
- Alginic acid (Gaviscon)
If these medications wouldn’t work anymore and if the disease is in its extreme case, then surgery might be ordered by the physician.