“Acid Reflux (Heartburn) may not be as simple as it appears to be” – says the doctors at Apollo Spectra Hospitals.
When we eat, food passes down the Esophagus into the stomach. Normally cells in the lining of the stomach make acid and other chemicals which help to digest food. Food and acid in stomach doesn’t travel in reverse direction into the esophagus due to many protective mechanisms. When acid from the stomach enters up into the Esophagus, the condition is known as acid reflux. Some of the common symptoms include Heartburn – especially more in night and on lying down, chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, frequent hiccups and burping, vomiting, bloating or fullness of stomach, persistent cough and worsening of asthma.
If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, then it is better to consult the gastroenterologist for acid reflux disease, also known as gastro Esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
One may be surprised to know that quality of life for the people with acid reflux problem is no better than those for heart attack, cancer and diabetes. Primarily caused by unhealthy lifestyle, precipitating food intake, hiatus hernia (internal stomach hernia), drugs and some multisystem diseases, if untreated it may lead to other health complications such as Esophagitis, Narrowing of Esophagus, Throat and voice problems, Tooth Decay, Esophageal Ulcers, Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer.
To manage acid reflux effectively one needs to consider making a certain lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, eating smaller meals, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes, avoiding heartburn triggers, such as alcohol, fatty foods, chocolate and mint, avoid lying down soon after a meal and stop smoking. Along with the lifestyle modifications and use of anti-reflux medications, patients need evaluation for acid reflux. The American College of Gastroenterology and Asian Consensus recommends endoscopy for “evaluation of heartburn at age more than 55 years, heartburn with alarming symptom, and any heartburn not responding to medications”.
The standard surgical treatment for GERD is fundoplication. The surgery is recommended for patients whose condition includes one or more of the following – Esophagitis (inflamed esophagus), symptoms that persist or come back in spite of anti-reflux drug treatment, strictures, failure to gain or maintain weight (in children).
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