Acid reflux is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or GORD). It is when the contents of your stomach and acid are regurgitated into your throat. Heartburn is the painful burning sensation in the chest normally felt after eating or lying down. Other GORD symptoms include; bad breath, sickness and difficulty swallowing.
GORD is a digestive disorder caused by a weakening in the band of muscle between the oesophagus and stomach. Normally the muscle (lower oesophagal sphincter) acts as an effective seal preventing stomach contents from travelling back to your mouth. Pregnant women and people with hiatal hernias suffer acid reflux. This is because the baby or a hernia pushes the diaphragm up which reduces the volume of the stomach.
The condition can be managed by changing your lifestyle and eating habits. Some people, however, have to resort to medication or surgery to treat it.
If you suffer indigestion sporadically over the counter antacids would ease your symptoms. Chronic acid reflux requires medication called proton pump inhibitors (PPI). These reduce the amount of stomach acid and ease the symptoms of heartburn. Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Esomeprazole, Nexium and Losec are all used to treat acid reflux. They work by blocking the enzyme in the stomach that produces stomach acid.
Proton pump inhibitors have the following side effects; a headache, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and nausea. Most people don’t suffer from the side effects and can comfortably use the treatment. All acid reflux treatment should be taken for a short amount of time as long-term use has been connected to heart attacks, osteoporosis and colon infection.
GORD is one of the most common conditions seen in doctor’s surgeries. Initially, patients are prescribed PPIs which normally reduce symptoms. However there are occasions when proton pump inhibitors do not prevent acid reflux, this is when a further examination is required.
If GORD diagnosis is correct then proton pump inhibitors will ease your symptoms. If there is no change in the severity of your acid reflux then your condition will be investigated. Your stomach acid will be tested to see if it is acidic enough for the PPI’s to be effective. Also, you will have an appointment to have an endoscopy which is a camera that enters your digestive system through your mouth. This will enable doctors to see what may be causing your acid reflux and identify cancer. The doctor will have a clearer picture of your condition and can start treating it.
Underlying health conditions like diabetes can cause acid reflux. It would be prudent to get yourself checked out just in case acid reflux is symptoms of a more serious illness. PPIs are so effective at treating acid reflux that if they don’t relieve your symptoms the chances are that you haven’t got acid reflux after all. If you have difficulty swallowing you may get a build up of food that causes similar symptoms. Bile acid is corrosive and causes heartburn but is an alkali so PPIs won’t neutralise it. Sometimes your stomach digests food too slowly causing stomach contents to go back to your throat.
Lifestyle changes such as; giving up smoking, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods and propping yourself up in bed at night can help to ease symptoms. It is important that you consult your doctor to make sure that your condition isn’t serious. Eventually, a solution will be found and your acid reflux will be greatly reduced or cured.