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Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux/Heartburn/ GERD/GORD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as “acid reflux”, is a chronic symptom of damage to the mucus membrane lining of the stomach or the oesophagus. where acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus (gullet). Although acid reflux is common, diagnose may be difficult because it resembles the symptoms of many other conditions, but unless treated it can be more serious than you might believe.

Research in the medical journal” Gut” reported the proportion of people suffering reflux rose from 11.6 per cent in 1995-97 to 17.1 per cent in 2006-09, a jump of 50 per cent. The prevalence of acid reflux symptoms experienced at least once a week rose by 47 per cent. Almost all of those with severe acid reflux experienced symptoms and/or used medication to treat them at least once a week, compared with around one in three of those with mild symptoms.

Acid reflux symptoms can spontaneously disappear without medication, but this happened to only one in 50 people with symptoms each year during the study.

 

Who are effected

  • Women under 40 were the least likely to have any acid reflux, but were more likely to develop symptoms as they got older.

 

  • The prevalence was stable among men, regardless of their age.

 

  • Worryingly children and teenagers are now beginning to show symptoms and complaining of acid reflux disease. Some experts believe this is due to a generation of children having lived on poor diets for most of their lives. Mostly past are the days for most families of having one parent at home during the day and coming home to a well prepared, healthy dinner. Children are now beginning to face adult health challenges like acid reflux because of living off sugary drinks that are acidic, and various foods that are not nutritious for them. If your child begins to show signs of experiencing reflux or indigestion frequently, get them to a family doctor to start treating it before it becomes severe.

Symptoms

Heartburn

Heartburn or pyrosis is an uncomfortable burning usually felt just below your breastbone, in the upper abdomen but can spread up to the throat and in some people, may come with a fiery sensation or acidic gurgling feeling in the throat. Sometimes the discomfort can radiate into the mouth or jaw and is often associated with eating or laying down. It is the most common symptom of GORD and   something everyone will experience at some point in their lives. It burns, it hurts, it makes laying down dreadful, and it’s not an ailment you want to develop on a regular basis.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is where acid and other stomach contents are brought back up (regurgitated) into your throat and mouth.

It usually causes an unpleasant, sour taste at the back of your mouth.
Over the counter antacids can often reduce some of the annoying and burning pain associated with heartburn, but if seems to be a consistent problem, prescription medications and possible scans may be required.

Bad Breath or a bitter taste.

When the esophageal orifice is weakened or compromised from the irritation, blistering or spasm caused by stomach acid, the acid can be expelled into the back of the mouth.

If you notice a bitter or sour taste which accompanies an episode of heartburn, you are probably dealing with a digestive reflux condition like GERD.

The good news is that the bitter taste is only temporary and will subside rather quickly in most cases.

Nausea being or feeling sick

“Dyspepsia” describes a condition of poor digestion leading to abdominal discomfort, belching, bloating and other stomach ailments. Nausea that accompanies burning in the throat and an upset stomach following eating can  point to acid reflux.
Chronic acidity in the stomach and throat can trigger regurgitation, which has been described as a “wet burp” that burns and may have a bitter or sour taste.

Some of those who experience this just after eating spicy foods or a heavy meal typically don’t consider themselves in the GORD umbrella, as they basically have a type of regurgitation that is induced by those foods, which means they can stop these symptoms from happening simply by not eating trigger foods.

When vomiting, or choking occurs during sleep it becomes a potentially life-threatening condition and medical intervention should be sought immediately.
Because nausea is a symptom of many illness, various elimination tests will help pinpoint the source of the nausea.

Chest Pain

Chest pain is a familiar symptom of GORD. Most people experience temporary heartburn from time to time after eating excessively or consuming poor quality food.

Lingering or recurring chest pain, however, is always a great concern because of its relationship to heart attack, yet symptoms in 50% of people reporting chest pain are not cardiac related. You should be most concerned if the pain worsens during activity or exercise.

For many sufferers there is good news: pain from Acid Reflux tends to dissipate with antacid and other over the counter medications or with an adjustment to your lifestyle.

Pain Increase While Resting

Ever feel like your GORD symptoms are worse when you are trying to sleep at night? You aren’t alone, as many patients have these exact same issues anytime they attempt to lie flat.

Standing helps prevent stomach acid from spilling into the oesophagus, as gravity aids digestion and reduces convulsive activity in the throat and stomach.

If you feel an increase in the burning sensation when you sit or lay down, you probably have GERD. Raise the head of your bed during bouts of acid reflux, seek some antacid and consider avoiding eating close to bedtime.

Pain or difficulty when swallowing

Difficulty in swallowing which may feel like a piece of food is stuck low down in your throat isn’t very common, and often puts the patients into a scary time worrying about why it is happening.

There are many conditions and illnesses that cause a sore throat such as colds and flu, allergies, or even excessive singing or shouting.

Many throat ailments are not digestive problems or signs of GORD. You can rule out a cold and flu or other illnesses by checking for specific symptoms such as body aches, sneezing or a runny nose. Other conditions can also be ruled out by observing when the symptoms arise. If your sore throat tends to occur after meals you may have a chronic digestive condition like acid reflux.

Bloating and belching

Can acid reflux cause gas? Possibly. Many of the same things that contribute to gas also cause acid reflux. Making lifestyle changes to treat acid reflux may also help reduce excessive gas. For instance, you can eliminate carbonated beverages like beer to help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. Eating smaller meals more often may reduce the symptoms of both conditions, too.

The reverse also can be true — attempting to release gas may trigger acid reflux. Belching both during and after meals to release air when the stomach is full is normal. However, some people belch frequently and swallow too much air, releasing it before it enters the stomach. Many people mistakenly believe that belching will help relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, but they may be doing more harm than good. It’s also possible to swallow air to clear your throat or mouth after stomach acid backs up.

Coughing or wheezing

Body systems are interrelated. A digestive disorder such as acid reflux can trigger a breathing problem like coughing, straining or wheezing perhaps because stomach acid has entered your lungs. , which may be worse at night If you suffer from asthma this will make your symptoms worse.

Your body coughs in order to eliminate the discomfort and reduce the acidity. These protective mechanisms are your body’s way of solving an acute problem however, if you find yourself waking up during coughing spells or due to regurgitation or vomiting, you should seek immediate advice from your doctor.

Tooth decay or gum disease

Visiting the dentist or oral hygienist for a 6monthy check-up. Maintain good oral hygiene and correct brushing technique.

 

In children

Symptoms may be similar in children and adults however kids also show some variance in symptoms, such as: crying, failure to gain weight, spitting up, and respiratory problems such as wheezing.

For pre-verbal infants, constant crying, refusal to eat or crying for food – quickly rejecting food – then crying for it again, bad breath and burping are also distinguishing symptoms of children with GORD.

Some children complain of tightening in the chest, develop wheezing, or report that they feel a cold coming on because of all of the sudden nausea or coughing that GORD can bring.

 

Causes

It is usually caused by the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus  becoming weakened.

Normally, this ring of muscle opens to let food into your stomach and closes to stop stomach acid leaking back up into your oesophagus.

But for people with acid reflux, stomach acid can pass back up into the oesophagus.In some people it is not clear what causes this ring of muscle to become weakened, but certain things can increase the risk of it happening.

 

Factors which may increase your risk acid reflux /GORD

  • being overweight or obease  – this can place increased pressure on your stomach and weaken the muscles at the bottom of the oesophagus
  • eating large amounts of fatty foods – the stomach takes longer to get rid of stomach acid after digesting a fatty meal and the resulting excess acid may leak up into the oesophagus
  • smoking, alcohol, coffee or chocolate – these may relax the muscles at the bottom of the oesophagus
  • pregnancy – temporary changes in hormone levels and increased pressure on your stomach during pregnancy can cause acid reflux GORD
  • hiatus hernia – when part of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm (thin sheet of muscle between the chest and tummy)
  • gastroparesis – when the stomach takes longer to get rid of stomach acid, which means excess acid can leak up into the oesophagus
  • certain medicines – some medicines can cause GORD or make the symptoms worse, including calcium-channel blockers (used to treat high  blood pressure), nitrates (used to treat angina) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • stress

GORD can sometimes affect several members of the same family and it’s been suggested that the genes you inherit from your parents may also affect your chances of developing the condition.

 

 

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