Acid reflux disease is a condition that is getting lots of attention in the media the past couple of years. Medications for this disease are advertised in magazines and on TV constantly promising to relieve the symptoms so you can live your life like you always have. But this spotlight into the media spotlight has many people asking "What is acid reflux?" |
There is some misunderstanding as to what it actually is. Many people think it's just a bad case of heartburn and while this can be one of the first symptoms it is much more serious then a case of stomach gas. What starts out as heartburn gets progressively worse because it is caused by stomach acids and bile regurgitating back into the esophagus, which is not protected against the corrosive affects of gastric acids. This is also what gives it its medically known name; Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
This reflux or regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus is what causes the myriad of symptoms. This reflux is not the actual cause of GERD though. The contents of the stomach are not supposed to flow back up into the esophagus because there are a set of sphincters that are supposed to prevent this from happening.
These three sphincters; the anti reflux barrier (ARB), the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and the gastroesophageal valve (GEV) are responsible for keeping the contents of the stomach in the stomach. When one of or all of these sphincters are weakened or fail they can no longer keep the gastric acid from flowing back into the throat. This failure is the cause of acid reflux disease.
Heartburn is usually the first symptom most people experience with this condition. The heartburn can be accompanied by a burning sensation or pressure in the upper chest. There will also be a bitter taste in the back of the throat followed by a painful burning and then swallowing problems. If your symptoms have progressed to this point and you have not seen a doctor it is important to make an appointment as soon as possible.
If you leave acid reflux untreated it can soon cause damage to the esophagus and throat. Stomach acid will damage the esophageal lining which leads to esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus. The larynx can also be damaged which can cause voice problems and hoarseness. Further damage to the throat can lead to a chronic cough, choking, and nausea and vomiting after eating.
If the lower portion of the esophagus continues to deteriorate cellular changes will occur leading to what is known as Barrett's esophagus. This pre-malignant condition greatly increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
If you have symptoms but aren't quite sure what is acid reflux then it is important to visit a doctor. The sooner you are diagnosed and treated the better your chances of not suffering the long term complications that this disease can cause it left untreated.
To learn more about acid reflux disease and its treatment please visit the website Acid Reflux Disease by clicking here.
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