Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms,
Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments
Millions of people are suffering from acid reflux esophagus disease every day. At the place where your esophagus joins with your stomach, there is a valve called lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When the food enters our stomach, the valve closes so that the food does not move up towards your esophagus. Inside the stomach, strong acids and enzymes are produced which helps in the digestion of the food. However, when LES does not close or opens quite often, the acids that are produced in your stomach can seep into your esophagus. This can result in discomfort, irritation, pain and burning sensation called heartburn. If acid reflux symptoms occur quite often, you are suffering from acid reflux disease which is also known gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Causes of Acid Reflux Disease
Hiatal Hernia - It is an abnormality associated with the stomach. When there is a weakness in the diaphragm (a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest), the upper portion of your stomach and LES can protrude through a tear and move above the diaphragm. This can cause the acids present in your stomach to easily move towards the esophagus.
You can experience symptoms like heartburn or dry cough when you eat large meals. Even going to bed very quickly after having a meal can trigger acid reflux.
Smoking and Drinking
Smoking can result in production of acid in your stomach and it can deteriorate the esophageal sphincter which can cause the acidic content in your stomach to flow back to the esophagus. It has been observed that after giving up alcohol or reducing its consumption, the condition can improve significantly.
Other causes include: Being overweight, pregnancy, diabetes, asthma, citrus fruits like oranges and lemon, drinks that contain caffeine, spicy foods, drugs like aspirin, some muscle relaxants and blood pressure medicine.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux DiseaseHeartburn – burning sensation beginning at your stomach that moves towards your chest and throat.
Regurgitation is the back flow of digested foods into your throat or mouth.
Other symptoms include: Chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, consistent burping, bloating, nausea, wheezing, and hoarseness.
Tests for Diagnosing Acid Reflux Disease
If you experience symptoms of acid reflux several times in a week, you should see a doctor. If general medicines like antacids do not give relief, your doctor can suggest you to undergo tests. Here are some of the tests you may have to undergo:
Barium swallow – you will be suggested to swallow a solution of barium and then through an X-ray procedure your doctors will check for presence of ulcers or thinning of the esophagus
Endoscopy is a thin tube along with a camera will be inserted in your mouth passing through esophagus to check the condition of inner walls esophagus and stomach.
Other diagnostic test for acid reflux disease include: esophageal manometry, pH monitoring and biopsy.
Treatments for Acid Reflux DiseaseLifestyle – There are several lifestyle changes you can do to put an end to acid reflux disease. Eating smaller meals, lying down or going to bed two or three hours after eating, exercising, cutting down on acidic foods, and giving up smoking and alcohol are some of the things that can effectively reduce acid reflux.
Medication – Your doctor will first prescribe you antacids for neutralizing your stomach. Some antacids can cause constipation. Hence, it is advisable to have antacids that have magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. Such antacids can neutralize your stomach without causing constipation. If antacids are not able to reduce your symptoms, your doctor can prescribe you the following medicines:
Foaming agents - lining the inner walls of stomach to avert reflux. H2 blockers or Proton Pump Inhibitors – to reduce production of acid. Pro kinetics – for making the lining of your LES strong and reducing acid reflux.