Acid Reflux

Acid reflux (or gastroesophageal reflux) is a stomach content backflow occurring upward into the individual’ esophagus. The stomach lining protects the person’s stomach from its own Acid Refluxacid effects.

Because the individual’s esophagus is lacking a similar protective lining, stomach acid which refluxes into it results in damage, inflammation, and pain. Acid refluxes at the time when the lower sphincters of the esophagus aren’t functioning appropriately. When the individual lies down, the gravity force is contributing to the reflux. The inflammation (esophagitis) degree resulted in reflux depends on stomach acidity contents, abilities to clear the regurgitated fluids from the person’s esophagus, and the stomach acid volume in the esophagus.

The most common acid reflux symptom is heartburn (a burning ache behind the breastbone). The pain is resulted from acid reflux coming from stomach into the person’s esophagus. Such pain rises into the chest and can extend into the throat, neck, and even face. It commonly happens while lying or after meals. Heartburn can be accompanied by stomach contents regurgitation into the mouth or excessive salivations. Excessive amount of salivation that happens when stomach acid is irritating the lower part of the esophagus is known as a water brash.

Acid reflux complications usually include esophageal ulcer, Barret’s syndrome, and peptic esophageal stricture. Esophagus inflammation can result in bleeding that is usually slight but may be excessive and cause pain during swallowing. Narrowing causes swallowing solids more difficult. The pain is generally just below or behind the breastbone and may subside by antacids. Healing process requires medications that are lowering the stomach acid over four to twelve week period. The ulcer heals slowly, tending to recur and frequently leaving esophagus narrowed after healing. The symptoms of acid reflux usually determine diagnosis.

Various procedures including esophagoscopy, manometry, esophageal pH (acidity test), esophageal acid infusion test (Bernstein test) may be needed to confirm acid reflux and check for any possible complications. Proof that symptoms caused by acid reflux is provided by obtaining of tissue specimen and testing it under a microscope (biopsy) or the esophageal acid infusion test (Bernstein test). Some measures must be taken to relieve acid reflux. Raising the individual’s head of the bed approx six inches may keep flowing acid away from the esophagus while a person is sleeping.

Avoiding alcohol, coffee that stimulates the person’s stomach to produce acid are helpful. Also, the individual may take an antacid one hour after each meal and at bedtime to keep stomach acid under control and decrease leaks to the lower sphincter of the esophagus. Using medications such as Ranitidine and Cimetidine may decrease acid in the stomach.

An individual with acid reflux also must avoid certain food (such as chocolate and fats), smoking, and some medications such as Anticholinergics to prevent leakage esophageal sphincter. A physician can prescribe such cholinergic drugs as Cisapride, Metoclopramide, and Bethanechol to make more tightly the lower sphincter closing. Until esophagitis bleeding is excessive, emergency surgery is not needed. However, the bleeding can be repeated. Drugs like Lansoprazole and Omeprazole for rapidly healing inflammation of the esophagus are resulted from acid reflux.

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