The backward flow of stomach acid into the food pipe is known as acid reflux. Sometimes acid reflux progresses to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, a more severe form of reflux. The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn caused due to irritation in the lining of the stomach.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), is a circular band of muscle that relaxes when you swallow, to let your food reach the stomach. Acid reflux occurs when it fails to relax or function properly.
- Heartburn, which might worsen at night
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
- Chronic cough
- Disrupted sleep
Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:
- Hiatal hernia
- Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
- Delayed stomach emptying
- Eating large meals or eating late at night
- Eating food such as fatty or fried foods, spicy food, citrus fruits, chocolate,
- Drinking alcohol, coffee or soda
- Medicines such as aspirin
Along with lifestyle changes, certain medications can help to relieve acid reflux. They include:
- H-2-receptor blockers, such as cimetidine
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole
In rare cases of severe reflux and poor response to medical treatment, your doctor may prescribe surgery. However, surgery should not be considered until all other measures have been tried. Surgical procedures carried out by your doctor may include:
Fundoplication is a surgical procedure to increase pressure in the lower esophagus through a laparoscope (small holes through the belly) or through open surgery.
- The Stretta procedure is done using a laparoscope to tighten the barrier between the esophagus and stomach.
Mostly, GERD doesn’t cause serious complications. But in rare cases, it can lead to serious or even life-threatening health problems like:
- An inflammation of your esophagus
- Narrowing or tightening of the esophagus
- Barrett’s esophagus, involving permanent changes to the lining of your esophagus
- Esophageal cancer
- Asthma, chronic cough, or other breathing problems, which may develop if you breath stomach acid into your lungs
- Tooth enamel erosion, gum disease, or other dental problems.
Consult our specialist at CMC, if you face any symptom of acid reflux or GERD.