Acid Reflux: When Should You Seek Treatment

 Acid Reflux: When Should You Seek Treatment

Does your chest or throat burn? If that’s the case, you may be experiencing acid reflux. GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a frequent digestive disorder.

What is GERD?

Stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus, causing GERD.

Many people endure heartburn or acid reflux. GERD is mild acid reflux occurring twice a week or moderate to severe acid reflux occurring once a week. Diet and over-the-counter medications may usually alleviate GERD symptoms.

What causes GERD?

The stomach and esophagus are called gastroesophageal. Reflux means to return. When you swallow, the LES relaxes, allowing food and fluids to enter your stomach.

In improper sphincter relaxation, stomach acid might reflux into the esophagus. This continual acid backwash irritates and inflames the esophageal lining.

Acid Reflux

Research shows GERD in infants is more widespread than physicians assumed. Acid reflux may be aggravated by:

  • Smoking
  • Eating hearty meals
  • Eating late
  • Consumption of particular foods such as fatty or fried foods
  • Consuming alcohol or caffeinated drinks
  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

What are GERD symptoms and signs?

GERD affects individuals in various ways, depending on their unique circumstances. The following are the most common symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest ache
  • Nausea
  • Tonsillitis

You may also encounter the following symptoms if you have acid reflux at night:

  • Prolonged cough
  • Asthma
  • Insomnia

When to take GERD treatment?

If you experience chest discomfort, get medical help right away, particularly if you also have shortness of breath, jaw, or arm pain.

  • Have severe or regular GERD symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
  • Taking over-the-counter heartburn drugs more than twice a week.

What are the stages of GERD?

Chronic esophageal inflammation may lead to the following symptoms over time:

  • Esophageal narrowing (esophageal stricture): Stomach acid causes scar tissue to grow in the lower esophagus. The scar tissue narrows the food channel, causing swallowing issues.
  • Esophageal open sore (esophageal ulcer): Stomach acid may erode esophageal tissue, creating an open sore. Swallowing becomes difficult due to bleeding and discomfort.
  • Barrett’s esophagus (precancerous alterations): Acid may damage the tissue lining the lower esophagus. These mutations raise the risk of esophageal cancer.

How do health care professionals treat GERD?

Your doctor may advise you to start with lifestyle changes. If you don’t feel better after a few weeks, your doctor may suggest medication or surgery.

Your doctor might prescribe prescription or OTC drugs:

  • Acid-neutralizing Antacids: Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums may help. Antacids alone will not heal a stomach acid-damaged esophagus overuse of certain antacids might induce diarrhea or kidney complications.
  • Acid-reducing drugs: Included in this group are cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Axid AR). H-2 receptor blockers give extended relief than antacids and may reduce stomach acid production for up to 12 hours. Prescribed versions are stronger.

These drugs are typically well-tolerated, but prolonged usage may raise the risk of vitamin B-12 insufficiency and bone fractures.

  • Acid-blocking and esophageal-healing medications: Proton pump inhibitors are potent acid blockers than H-2 receptor blockers and allow faster esophageal healing. These include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC).

These drugs may induce diarrhea, headache, nausea, and vitamin B-12 insufficiency. Chronic usage may increase hip fracture risk.

Surgery and other procedures

Acid Reflux

Medication typically controls GERD. To prevent long-term pharmaceutical usage or if meds don’t help, your doctor may suggest:

  • Fundoplication: The surgeon wraps your stomach over the LES to tighten it and prevent reflux. Fundoplication is a micro-surgery.
  • LINX device: A ring of magnetic beads surrounds the stomach-esophagus. The magnetic interaction between the beads keeps acid out but lets food through. Lingx implants are minimal.
  • Transoral Incisionless fundoplication (TIF): Using polypropylene fasteners, a partial wrap around the lower esophagus tightens the lower esophageal sphincter. TIF uses a camera via the mouth. It has a fast recovery time and high tolerance.

Are there home remedies for GERD?

Doctors recommend numerous lifestyle adjustments to help reduce GERD symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity puts strain on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and creating acid reflux.
  • Quit Smoking: impairs the LES function.
  • Raise your bed’s head: If you routinely get heartburn while sleeping, elevate your bed 6 to 9 inches by placing wood or cement blocks. It’s possible to install a wedge between your mattress and box spring to raise your body from the waist.
  • Don’t nap after a meal: Wait three hours after eating to lie down or sleep.
  • Chew gently: Put down your fork after each mouthful and take it up after chewing and swallowing.
  • Avoid foods that cause reflux. Caffeine, fried meals, tomato sauce, mint, garlic, onion, and chocolate are common triggers.
  • Tight clothing: They put pressure on the abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter.

Other GERD therapies are unproven. When paired with your doctor’s treatment, several complementary and alternative therapies may help.

  • Herbal remedies: Licorice and chamomile relieve GERD symptoms. Herbal medicine can have adverse effects and may interact with drugs.
  • Relaxation therapies: Stress management techniques may help minimise GERD symptoms. Consider relaxing methods like progressive muscle relaxation and guided visualisation.

What is the diagnosis for GERD?

If you have essential acid reflux, your physician can usually determine your symptoms and treatment. You and your doctor may discuss symptom management with diet and medication.

GERD isn’t life-threatening. If you have severe or persistent esophageal reflux, or if your symptoms don’t improve with therapy, you may require further testing. Your doctor may employ the following procedures:

  • Upper endoscopy: This is a procedure that examines your esophagus and stomach. Your doctor inserts an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera). Even if tests are normal, an endoscope may detect esophagitis or other issues. One of the purposes of endoscopy is to obtain tissue samples for testing.
  • Ambulatory acid (pH) probe test: An esophageal monitor records when and how long stomach acid regurgitates. The display links to a tiny computer worn around the waist or over the shoulder. The monitor may be a thin, flexible tube (catheter) inserted via the nose into the esophagus or a clip inserted during endoscopy and eliminated two days later.
  • Esophageal manometry: This exam evaluates your esophageal rhythmic muscle contractions. Esophageal manometry evaluates the muscles’ coordination and force.
  • X-ray of your upper digestive system: Taken when a gritty liquid penetrates and infiltrates your digestive tract. The esophagus, stomach, and upper intestine are covered. To determine the esophagus circumferential restriction, you may have to swallow a barium tablet.

Is it possible to prevent GERD?

A thoughtful diet, better sleep habits, and stress relief are vital in preventing the frequent heartburn associated with GERD.

Priyam Chatterjee

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