Gastroesophageal reflux disease: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

When you eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. A ring of muscle fibers in the lower esophagus prevents swallowed food from moving back up. These muscle fibers are called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

A larger-than-normal opening of the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to move above the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. Not all people with hiatal hernias will have GERD symptoms. As a last resort, and when GERD symptoms have caused significant damage to the esophagus, surgery is an option. The procedure repairs the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, preventing acid reflux from occurring and giving the esophagus an opportunity to heal.

A little bit of reflux is normal. But if you have excessive stomach acid in your esophagus, you’re likely to be in a lot of discomfort. There’s a ringlike muscle where your esophagus meets your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Chronic cases often respond to prescription drugs, and severe cases may require surgery to avoid serious complications. Another surgical procedure called a fundoplication can help prevent further acid reflux. It creates an artificial valve using the top of your stomach. The procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the LES to strengthen it, prevent acid reflux, and repair a hiatal hernia.

You may have seen ads for heartburn drugs, such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid. These drugs are called PPIs (proton pump inhibitors). They keep the stomach from making too much acid. They have been shown to heal irritation of the tube between the throat and the stomach (the esophagus).

You can help yourself stay well with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and losing weight if you need to. If you have asthma and GORD, you need to keep a closer eye on your asthma symptoms. They could get worse because of stomach acid irritating your airways. Alcohol doesn’t interfere with the way Gaviscon works. But drinking alcohol makes your stomach produce more acid than normal.

That includes medicines used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, heart problems, arthritis or other inflammation, osteoporosis (low bone density), anxiety, insomnia, depression, pain, Parkinson’s disease, muscle spasm, or cancer. Also, drugs used for hormone therapy can be a heartburn trigger. Complications of acid reflux can include any of the following. Most of these are rare, but GERD can be the first step toward any of them. The best treatment for any of these is prevention.

This can help increase saliva in your mouth and keep acid out of the esophagus. 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 relieve the symptoms of acid reflux, but they may be doing more harm than good.

How Do People Know They Have GERD?

And if you are experiencing acid reflux, know that there are easy ways to handle or cure it. Because with everything else you have to deal with, you don’t want to add gas to the list. Many of the same things that contribute to gas also cause acid reflux, which means you may feel the urge to burp more than usual.

Until I get a diagnosis I have resolved to be calm, patient, keep a positive mental attitude and distract myself with pleasant activities whenever I can. I am in the fortunate position of not having to care for anyone else and I do appreciate the fact that my time is my own. I can concentrate on things like diet modification and rest. My heart goes out to those of you caring for young children and managing a GI disorder.

The esophagus or food pipe is the tube stretching from the throat to the stomach. When food is swallowed, it travels down the esophagus. It’s time to see your doctor if you have acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week or if medications don’t bring lasting relief.

GERD (Acid Reflux) Treatment

“Wheezing or a cough that mimics asthma or bronchitis can be caused by acid reflux moving from the stomach to the lungs,” says Evan Dellon, MD, the director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases and Swallowing at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC. On the other hand, wheezers and coughers can sometimes make themselves more prone to reflux, says Dr. Dellon, because the actions put pressure on the belly and push stomach acid upward. Heartburn or acid indigestion is the most common symptom of GERD. Tube feedings. In some cases tube feedings may be recommended.

Here are some tips to help you quit smoking. Eating smaller meals puts less pressure on the stomach, which can prevent the backflow of stomach acids.

The most common causes of acid indigestion are related to eating unhealthy foods, unhealthy ways of eating and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, although it can be caused by peptic ulcers, GERD and gastric or pancreatic cancer. Beyond it being caused by disease or an ulcer, most people experience acid indigestion because of eating too much, eating too fast, eating foods high in fat or eating foods during stressful times. Other factors causing acid indigestion or making it worse include eating too large a meal, eating a lot of spicy foods, consuming too much caffeine or carbonated soft drinks on a regular basis, eating irregularly, allowing long intervals of time between meals, drinking too much alcohol, smoking too much, suffering from fatigue, experiencing chronic stress or anxiety, taking medications irritating to the stomach lining and exercising on a full stomach (see NIDDK, 2004; Protocare Corporation, 1997).

All of the medications discussed above have specific treatment regimens, which you must follow closely for maximum effect. Usually, a combination of these measures can successfully control the symptoms of acid reflux.

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