Acid reflux disease or GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) can be described as reflux of gastric acid into the lumen of our esophagus. It happens when there is increased acid secretion from the gastric mucosa. The muscular tone of the gastro-esophageal valve is also reduced in this situation. Stomach acid irritates the esophageal mucous membrane which is not capable to withstand the extreme pH of gastric acid. So we feel irritation and pain over the lower aspect of our throat.
Incidence of GERD –
GERD is very common throughout the world. It is estimated that one tenth of the American population will suffer from peptic ulcer disease at some point of their lifetime. More than 2 billion dollars are spent for treatment of this disease annually.
There is extremely painful burning sensation over the lower end of throat and upper central part of stomach. Moreover, this pain is related to eating. Intake of food increases the intensity of pain. There is regurgitation of food as the tone of the gastro-esophageal valve is reduced.
GERD is multifactorial in origin. The most common causes are –
· Excessive smoking
· Intake of spicy food, junk food
· Irregular food habits
· Class I personality
· Executive lifestyle
· Long standing use of pain killer drugs (NSAIDs)
· Helicobacter pylori – recently invented bacteria, normally present in the stomach. But in some patients, there is overproduction in the bacterial colony and increase production of gastric acid.
Diagnosis of H. pylori –
There are three methods of diagnosing H. pylori (acid reflux bacteria). The simplest test is directed to detect presence of antibody in the blood against the organism. A breath test is available that works by determining labeled carbon dioxide in the breath symptomatic of an H. pylori infection. Lastly the most invasive test is endoscopic assessment of H. pylori presence.