Acid Reflux Disease is sometimes called heartburn for the simple fact that one of its most common symptoms is a burning sensation along the bottom of where the heart sits. Although the heart isn't actually burning this burning is caused an abnormal regurgitation of stomach acids into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach through which food is swallowed. This tube is not meant to be exposed to gastric acids and when the protective muscles and sphincters fail to stop the reflux the burning and other symptoms of acid reflux occur. This disease is also known as GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) and affects millions of people around the world. |
Nearly everyone suffers from heartburn at some time in their life. Most often this occurs after a heavy meal but not everyone who has heartburn suffers from acid reflux. If you have these symptoms consistently two or more times a week there is a good chance that GERD will be diagnosed with a visit to the doctor.
The exact cause of acid reflux disease is not known, although a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter is the primary culprit. It is a manageable condition if you take the proper steps to control it. Leaving GERD untreated can lead to more serious conditions including cancer of the esophagus. The most common avenues of treatment revolve around lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, stress reduction, and medications.
When the esophageal sphincter fails or relaxes at the wrong time the contents of the stomach, including gastric acids, can flow back up the esophagus. Certain types of foods, lifestyle choices, and conditions that may exacerbate acid reflux include onions, chocolate, fatty foods, peppermint, smoking, caffeine, obesity, being pregnant, and delayed stomach emptying. Obesity and pregnancy cause symptoms simply because they put pressure on the stomach forcing its contents back into the esophagus.
By changing some of these issues you can many times reduce or stop the occurrences of reflux symptoms. Eating more but smaller meals through out the day, losing weight, quitting smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, and avoiding the foods that set off the symptoms are all good lifestyle choices to make.
Left untreated acid reflux disease can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus resulting in ulcerations and narrowing which can make swallowing difficult and painful. In addition to these complications it can also cause esophageal cancer if not properly treated.
Many people treat their acid reflux symptoms with over the counter antacids, which work by neutralizing the acid in the stomach. Unfortunately while these do help with short term symptom relief they are not the normally recommended treatment for this disease, particularly if you suffer from its effects regularly. Chronic acid reflux will usually require stronger medications such as proton pump inhibitors or prokinetic agents, along with watching diet and other lifestyle factors.
To learn more about acid reflux disease and its treatment please visit the website Acid Reflux Disease by clicking here.
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