Definition and Cause
Almost everyone has at some point in their lives seemed to have acid reflux or heartburn. Usually these “attacks” are short and mild. Acid reflux and heartburn is caused by (reflux) of stomach acid to the mouth or esophagus. Due to decreased strength in lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), the valve function fails. The lining of the esophagus is not equipped to cope with the acidic gastric juice.
Several things can predispose you to stomach acid reflux. Obesity leads to increased pressure in the abdominal cavity and this creates a higher risk of reflux. The same is true in pregnancy.
Symptoms of stomach acid reflux
Heartburn is experienced as a burning sensation behind the sternum that radiates up the neck. Sometimes stomach acid can be tasted in the mouth. You rarely experienced reflux as dyspepsia.
Precautions and diagnosis
If you are plagued by recurrent episodes of heartburn, here is a series of actions you can do:
* Avoid strong or acidic foods. Avoid high-fat food.
* Avoid chocolate and peppermint.
* Reducing or stopping alcohol consumption.
* Avoid late and for large meals.
* Avoid lying down or exercise immediately after meals.
* Quit smoking.
* Weight loss.
* Elevation of bed head end (slept on a couple of extra pillows).
* Avoid bending forward.
* Avoid certain types of medications, including certain types of painkillers and certain types of heart or blood pressure medication.
Usually the symptoms are so obvious that there are no problems with the diagnosis. But if in doubt performed an arthroscopy of the esophagus. Alternatively, one can measure the acidity (pH) in the esophagus for more than 24 hours, possibly combined with pressure measurement of sphincter.
Treatment of stomach acid reflux
If the above actions have no effect, one needs to use medical treatment. For mild symptoms, it can be treated with agents that neutralize acids and agents that increase the strength of the lower sphincter.. If the symptoms are still not addressed, you could try the so-called proton pump inhibitors.
If medical treatment does not help, you may need surgery, where the top part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus, forming a new closing mechanism.
Complications of gastric acid reflux
Long-term reflux could cause damage to the lining of the esophagus. Severe cases can cause bleeding that can either show up as black, foul-smelling feces (digested blood) or as general anemia . There may also be inflammation of the esophagus , known as spiserørskatar possibly with the strictures of the esophagus as a result. There may also be what is called Barrett’s esophagus. It is a modification of the lining of the esophagus so that it resembles the lining of the stomach. This condition is associated with a significant risk of developing cancer of the esophagus.