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Acid Reflux

Acid reflux disease is associated with malfunctioning of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The Sphincter is present at the entrance of the stomach and it is in the form of muscle ring. The LES should close after the entry of food into the stomach.

If the valve fails to close properly, the acid produced in the stomach is released. The acid will move up through the oesophagus and it will cause burning sensation in the chest. If a patient experience acid reflux for more than 2 times in a week, he suffers from acid reflux disease which is also called as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Acid reflux disease can be overcome by taking medications as directed by the physician. If the disease cannot be controlled by medication, the doctor will suggest a surgery. If the acid reflux is severe, it is termed as GERD. Acid reflux is experienced in people of all age groups. Even though lifestyle is the major factors, there are unknown reasons which attribute to the reflux.

Acid Reflux Symptoms

-  Heartburn is a common symptom in people suffering from acid reflux disease

-  The burning pain is experienced from the stomach region to the throat. The pain may be present in the abdomen and chest

-  Bitter-tasting acid may move back to your throat

-  Black stools are common when suffering from acid reflux

-  Bloating and burping are also common symptoms

-  A person may suffer from hiccups that will not subside

-  Weight loss without any reason

-  A chronic sore throat, wheezing

-  A dry cough

-  Nausea

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Causes of Acid Reflux

-  Typically, hiatal hernia is the common cause of acid reflux.

-  The acid levels in the stomach are retained and don’t harm your body when the LES and upper part of the stomach are in the proper place. If they move above the diaphragm, there will be issues. The stomach acid may release through the oesophagus. If a person is suffering from hiatal hernia, the stomach acid will move up and the patient will experience the symptoms of acid reflux disease.

-  You should be aware of the risk factors that lead to acid reflux disease.

-  If you eat large meals and lie down right after the meal, the risk will increase

-  The disease is prevalent in people who are obese

-  You should not lie back or bend after eating a heavy meal as it will increase the risk of acid reflux disease

-  Eating snacks before bedtime should be avoided

-  The acid reflux disease may occur by eating certain kinds of food items such as onion, spicy foods, fatty foods, citrus fruits, tomato, mint and garlic

-  The risk will increase by drinking beverages such as carbonated drinks, coffee, tea and alcohol

-  The risk is high in smokers

-  Pregnant ladies may suffer from acid reflux disease

-  Certain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and muscle relaxants will increase the risk

-  Blood pressure medications will also pose the risk of acid reflux disease

-  Low levels of physical exercises are risk factors

-  Medication for asthma, antihistamines, sedatives, painkillers and antidepressants will also lead to acid reflux symptoms

-  During pregnancy, there will be extra pressure on internal organs and it will lead to acid reflux

-  Dietary habits which are linked to acid reflux include caffeine, alcohol, higher salt consumption and having large meals.

-  Consumption of acidic juices and carbonated drinks should be avoided

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Diagnosis of Acid Reflux

-  As soon as you find the symptoms of acid reflux disease, you should fix an appointment with the doctor. If the symptoms appear 2 or 3 times in a week, you should consult the physician. And often, medicines do little to subside the symptoms.

-  The doctor will prescribe antacids to improve the symptoms. If there is no relief after using acid-blocking medications, further tests are conducted to evaluate the condition.

-  The narrowing of the oesophagus will be checked with the Esophagram. Barium will be swallowed by the patient and the doctor will ascertain the condition. The presence of ulcers can be found by the test.

-  The function of the oesophagus and lower oesophagal sphincter will be checked with the oesophagal manometry.

-  The acid present in the oesophagus can be measured by the pH test. The amount of acid present in the oesophagus will be found by inserting a device into the oesophagus and the device will be retained for about 1 or 2 days.

-  The issues present in the oesophagus or stomach will be checked by the Endoscopy. A lighted tube with a camera will be inserted into the throat and the underlying issues will be studied. The procedure will be performed after giving local anaesthesia. Sedatives are given to the patient for immediate relief.

-  The infection or abnormalities are found by biopsy while performing the endoscopy.

Acid Reflux Prevention

-  People suffering from acid reflux disease should make lifestyle changes.

-  There will be relief from symptoms by taking antacids or acid-blocking medications.

-  Patients should avoid the intake of spicy food items

-  Lying down immediately after the food should be avoided. There should be at least 2 to 3 hours gap after the food

-  Patients should observe the fruits, vegetables and other conditions which aggravate their condition. They should take steps to avoid those triggers

-  When you suffer from acid reflux symptoms for more than 2 or 3 times in a week, you should go for acid reflux medication as per the prescription of a doctor

-  Patients often complain about gut-related issues after suffering from acid reflux condition

-  Heartburn is the most common symptom found in people suffering from acid reflux. If the symptoms are severe and recur on a regular basis, it should be treated as GERD.

-  The lining of the stomach is designed to get protection from the hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach. However, the oesophagus cannot withstand the exposure to hydrochloric acid. Gastroesophageal sphincter will let the food go into the stomach and will ensure that it will not reach the oesophagus.

-  It is not possible to prevent hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia is nothing but a hole in the diaphragm which allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity. The condition is also called as GERD.

-  There are liquid as well as tabular forms of antacids which can be taken to overcome the acid reflux. Antacids are meant for quick relief on a short-term basis.

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Acid Reflux Treatment

-  Food and beverages that trigger the acid reflux symptoms should be avoided

-  The person suffering from acid reflux should take a smaller quantity of meals throughout the day

-  The head portion on the mattress should be elevated by at least 4” to 6” so that there will be a great comfort

-  You should not take food at least 2 to 3 hours before the bedtime

-  You can sleep in a chair during the daytime

-  Tight clothes and belts should be avoided

-  Exercises and diet changes will help you in shedding the excess weight. Obesity will increase the risk of acid reflux disease

-  You can consult your doctor to figure out a medication which triggers the heartburn

-  The symptoms of acid reflux disease can be overcome by making lifestyle changes and using the prescribed medications.

-  The acid present in the stomach will be neutralized with the consumption of antacids such as Maalox, Alka-Seltzer, Riopan and Rolaids. However, there may be side effects with the intake of antacids. The side effects include diarrhoea or constipation. Hence, you should not overuse the antacids

-  The antacids should contain magnesium and aluminium hydroxide so that the side effects can be minimized

-  If there is no relief by using antacids, the doctor will prescribe other kinds of medication. By using combination drugs, the condition can be controlled very efficiently

-  The acid reflux can be prevented by using foaming agents

-  The acid production in the stomach will be decreased by using H2 blockers such as Pepcid and Zantac

-  The acid from the stomach can be removed very efficiently by using proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Protonix and Nexium

-  The LES will be strengthened by taking Prokinetics such as Reglan and Urecholine. The stomach will be emptied very quickly so that the acid reflux symptoms will be reduced.

-  There are surgical options which will be referred when a patient suffers from severe acid reflux condition.

-  A ring (LINX device) will be placed at the lower end of the oesophagus at the location where the mouth and stomach will connect. The ring is made up of magnetic titanium beads which are kept in their place by the titanium wire. The ring will prevent the contents that flow from the stomach to the oesophagus. After the successful surgery, patients may stop the medication or decrease the medication as per the improvement in the condition.

-  Fundoplication is a surgical procedure which helps in decreasing the acid reflux. An artificial valve will be prepared by using the upper part of the stomach. The LES will be strengthened in this process. The operation will be helpful in repairing hiatal hernia as well. An incision will be made either through the abdomen or chest to perform the operation. The operation will be performed through the lighted tube inserted through the hole.

-  The treatment options for people who suffer from acid reflux very frequently include either PPIs or H2 blockers. These are medications which should be followed as per the prescription of the doctor. By taking PPIs and H2 blockers, the damage to the oesophagus can be avoided.

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Complications of Acid Reflux

-  You should not combine different types of antacids without consulting the doctor. Before using the acid reflux medications, you should consult the doctor so that further complications can be avoided.

-  If the acid reflux is severe, surgery will be performed. The LINX device will be attached at the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach. The operation will not be performed on people who are sensitive/allergic to certain kinds of metals.

-  After the LINX device arrangement, no MRI scan should be performed on the patient.

-  Acid reflux is prevalent in patients suffering from indigestion issues. The condition is also called acid indigestion or pyrosis.

-  Most of the patients will experience the burning feeling in the lower chest area after eating

-  Obesity and smoking will aggravate the condition. Hence, you should take steps to maintain the right weight as per your height and age. Smoking in all ways (active and passive) should be avoided.

-  Prescription drugs are safe and effective. However, they pose side effects similar to other kinds of medications.

-  Some medications will cause trouble in absorbing the nutrients from the food.

Myths about Acid Reflux

Myths #1) . No surgery can be performed to overcome acid reflux

Acid reflux can be overcome by undergoing the treatment as per the directions of the physician. The patient should follow the medication without fail. If there is no improvement in symptoms after medications, the surgery is the only option. After the surgery, the dependency on medication will decrease completely or partially.

Myths #2). Acid reflux leads to heart issues –

There is no relation between heartburns and heart issues. The acid reflux takes place when some of the acid content from the stomach flows back to the oesophagus and it will reach the mouth.

Myths #3) . There is no harm to the stomach with antacids –

Antacids offer quick relief. However, they may decrease the nutrient absorption from the food.

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Conclusion

Acid reflux disease will impact the health of an individual. In most of the cases, the disease can be overcome by changing the lifestyle. The food habits and exercise routine will play an important role in containing the disease. The symptoms can be improved with medication. Surgery is the last resort if the patient fails to improve the symptoms with medication. After the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe the most appropriate medication or surgery as per the case.

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Last updated on : 26-10-2018

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