Acid reflux occurs when the acid content in your stomach flow back up to the esophagus. This can be rather painful and cause the lower part of your esophagus to become inflamed. Your doctor may call it Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), but most of us call it acid reflux, reflux or heartburn.
Heartburn and Other Symptoms
Heartburn, the primary acid reflux syndrome symptom, can spread to your jaw, neck, arms or back. You may also have difficulty swallowing, spitting and vomiting. You might also experience cramping, hoarseness, sore throat, pain below your breastbone, salivating more than usual, coughing or shortness of breath. You could even find that hearburn causes bad breath. Usually, acid reflux syndrome symptoms appear when you lie down after eating. You may find that simply sitting up relieves the acid reflux syndrome symptoms.
Frequent occurrences of acid reflux can threaten your health. Recurrence can lead to reflux esophagitis, narrowing of the esophagus or esophageal ulcer. Acid reflux syndrome can even lead to Barrett’s syndrome, a change in your esophageal lining that can develop into esophageal cancer.
Foods and Medications that CauseAcid Reflux Syndrome Symptoms
Acid reflux occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) functions poorly. Normally this sphincter remains tightly caused. However, it may malfunction and open when it should not under certain circumstances. For instance, the esophageal sphincter may open after you eat a heavy meal or if you lie down soon after you eat anything.
Greasy foods, peppermint and chocolate can relax the lower esophageal sphinter and increase your odds of reflux. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can also aggravate acid reflux syndrome. Certain drugs such as calcium channel blockers, meperidine, diazepam, prostaglandins, morphine and nitrate heart medication may also cause the LES to open.
Who is Affected by Acid Reflux Syndrome
Anyone can experience acid reflux. However, you are more likely to be affected by acid reflux syndrome if you are overweight or if you suffer from hiatal hernia or scleroderma (hardening of the skin and connective tissue). Women reportedly have a higher occurrence of acid reflux during pregnancy.
Diagnostic examinations for acid reflux syndrome include x-rays. Your physician may perform a closer examination known as an esophagoscopy. This is done by inserting a flexible viewing tube into your esophagus. A biopsy may also be taken during an esophagoscopy. An esophageal manometry can measure pressure in your lower esophageal sphincter or the Bernstein test measures how much acid is in your esophagus.
An Array of Acid Reflux Syndrome Treatment Options
A recommended treatment for your acid reflux syndrome could be elevating the head of your bed. Doing so keeps the stomach acid from flowing into your esophagus while you are asleep. As already mentioned, you should avoid fatty foods, coffee and alcohol because they aggravate acid reflux.
If these remedies fail to provide relief, you may try taking antacids after eating and again at bedtime. More aggressive medications include histamine receptor blockers (for reduce stomach acids), prokinetic or motily drugs (for making the LES to close more tightly), proton-pump inhibitors, and omepraxole or lansoprazole (for healing esophageal inflammation).
If these treatment methods prove to be ineffective and your acid reflux syndrome becomes severe, surgery may by your only option. However, less than 25% of acid reflux patents require surgery.