GERD/ Acid reflux is a very common condition affecting people of all age groups. Acid Reflux or GERD is characterized by a burning pain a.k.a heartburn as it is generally called, felt internally around the lower chest area.
What is Acid Reflux / GERD?
The upper part of the stomach is controlled by a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, the LES closes as soon as food passes through it. If the LES doesn’t close all the way or if it opens too often, the acid produced by your stomach can travel upward into your food pipe. This can induce symptoms such as a burning chest pain called heartburn. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you have acid reflux disease, which is also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
What Causes Acid Reflux?
One of the common causes of acid reflux disease is a problem called a Hiatal Hernia. This occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Normally, the diaphragm helps keep the acid in your tummy but if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can travel upwards into your esophagus and cause symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease / GERD.
These are other common risk factors for acid reflux disease:
- Eating large meals or lying down right meal
- Being obese or overweight
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Consuming particular eatables, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or any kind of unhealthy food.
- Beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
- Heartburn: A burning pain or soreness that may travel from your tummy to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat
- Regurgitation: a sour or acid-tasting acid backing up into your throat or lip
- Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting
- Dental sensitivity
- Dysphagia –painful swallowing
- Hiccups that don’t let up
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or a sore throat
How Is Acid Reflux Disease Treated?
Majority of the patients with acid reflux problem respond well to certain lifestyle changes and medications.These include:
- Avoiding foods that trigger a reflux
- Elevation of the head end of the cot
- Not lying down immediately after meals
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
- Medications which decrease acid secretion and improve the movement of the stomach.
If these steps don’t help or if you suffer frequent or severe symptoms, your physician may set up exams to substantiate a diagnosis and check for other troubles. You may require one or more tests such as these:
Endoscopy can check for problems in your stomach. This test involves inserting a long, flexible, lighted tube with a camera down your throat. Firstly the doctor will spray the back of the throat with anesthetic and give you a sedative to make you more comfortable
Esophageal manometry can check the function of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter.
Are There Any Other Ways to Permanently Cure Acid Reflux Disease, Like Surgery?
If medications do not completely resolve your symptoms of acid reflux disease and the symptoms are severe interfering with your normal life your doctor could recommend surgery.
A surgical procedure called fundoplication can help cure acid reflux. It produces an artificial valve using the stomach as a wrap .This is performed laparoscopically (keyhole).The patient experiences only minimal discomfort and is back to his normal life and activities within 5 days of the surgery.