Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Gerd or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a fairly common problem in the community. This condition is caused by the rising of stomach acid towards the esophagus and cause heartburn pain or burning sensation in the chest. The esophagus which is also known as the part of digestive tract that connects the mouth and stomach.
Diseases of stomach acid or GERD is generally caused by not proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is a circle of muscle at the lower part of the esophagus. LES serves as a door which will automatically open when food or drink go down to the stomach. After the food goes down , LES will close to prevent the acid and food in the stomach not to back into the esophagus.
If the LES become loose and does not close properly, stomach acid can get out of the stomach and lead to acid disease of the stomach. The cause of the disease of gastric acid is usually associated with factors of excess body weight, state of pregnancy, or consumption of foods that contain a lot of fat.
To diagnose of diseases of stomach acid or GERD, the doctor simply ask about the symptoms you are experiencing. Further research to confirm the diagnosis can be done through endoscopy procedures.
Treatment of diseases of the stomach acid has stages. Easiest thing to do is to replace the food menu which must be low in fat and nutritious. But when dietary changes are not successful, the drugs will be used to relieve symptoms. If the treatment measures that have been undertaken is still not successful, it may need to do surgery to treat the GERD. For people who have the disease of stomach acid for recurrent, may need to be given the dose of the drug for the long term.
Complications of gastric acid disease most often occurs esophagitis. Esophagitis is an inflammation of the wall of the esophagus or gullet. In cases of severe esophagitis, the patient will have difficulty swallowing due to the appearance of ulcers. Ulcers form when the lining of the esophagus erodes so that it becomes a wound. In more severe cases, may develop cancer of the esophagus.
The Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
When stomach acid rises, the tissue wall of the esophagus and the mouth will be irritated by stomach acid. Here are the most commonly symptoms experienced by patients with gastric acid diseases:
Acid reflux or regurgitation, acid in the stomach goes back up into the esophagus and mouth so that it appears sour and bitter taste.
A burning sensation in the chest or heartburn, this condition is felt on the bones of the chest. The pain will be felt stronger after eating and when bending.
Difficulty in swallowing
In addition to the general symptoms above, there are several other symptoms that may be experienced due to the stomach acid that rises. Symptoms include:
- Feel as if there is a lump in the throat when swallowing.
- Laryngitis: inflammation of the larynx or the vocal cords that causes the sore throat and the voice becomes hoarse.
- Dry cough without stopping, especially at night.
- Pain in the chest.
- Teeth become damaged.
- The smell of bad breath.
- Increasing the amount of saliva
Mild stomach acid that occurs one or two times a month usually do not require medical intervention. This can be overcome by changing the food menu and also buy medicine in the pharmacy when the symptoms appear. For more severe symptoms, you should see a doctor and ask about medication or treatment is more appropriate.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Causes
Gastric acid diseases is largely due to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is not functioning properly. LES is a muscular ring at the bottom of the esophagus that acts as a ‘’gatekeeper’’. When eating, the muscles of the LES will relax and let food pass into the stomach. After the food passes, the muscles of the LES will be tense and close so that stomach acid and food does not rise back from the stomach into the esophagus or esophagus.
As a result, stomach acid can leak into the esophagus. Patients will feel heartburn or burning sensation in the chest and abdomen became noticeably uncomfortable.
It is still unknown why LES is weakened. There are several risk factors that are allegedly related to this condition.
- First, excess weight or obesity. People who are fat have higher pressure in the stomach compared with those of specific gravity ideal body. High pressure is thought to weaken the muscles of the LES.
- The second is eating too much fatty foods. Fatty foods require longer time for digestion in the stomach so that stomach acid will be produced more.
- The third factor is too much consumption of coffee, chocolate, alcohol and smoking. These elements make the muscles of the LES to be relaxed so that the stomach acid can rise up into the esophagus.
- The fourth factor is the state of pregnant. People who are pregnant will experience hormonal changes that can weaken the LES. In addition it will increase the pressure on the abdomen.
- The fifth factor is suffering from hiatus hernia.
In addition, the stress factor also plays a role in making the LES weaker.
Diabetics are also more at risk of suffering from the disease of stomach acid. High sugar levels damage the nerves that control the muscles of the abdomen. As a result, foods stay in the stomach longer before continuing on to the small intestine. This condition gives the stomach acid a chance to rise up into the esophagus.
In addition to the factors above, drugs can also give impact to the weakening of the LES. Administration of drugs which inhibit calcium (calcium-channel blockers) for patients with high blood pressure or hypertension can weaken LES. Nitrate is used to treat angina can also weaken the LES.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Diagnosis
To find out if you are suffering from a disease or GERD, doctor simply ask about the symptoms to patient. A further test is only recommended if You feel pain or difficulty when swallowing, as if the symptoms do not subside after taking drugs.
Further tests carried out to ensure the symptoms are not due to other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome. There are four types of advanced tests to check for diseases of stomach acid or GERD such as manometry, endoscopy, monitoring the acidity of the esophagus and barium tests.
Manometry tests are done to to check how well LES muscle function by measuring the pressure level in the muscles.The other test endoscopy which is performed using an endoscope to confirm the diagnosis of GERD and see if the wall of the esophagus is damaged by acid.
The next test is a kind of monitoring of acidity in the esophagus. Measurement of pH or acidity in the esophagus needs to be done if the results of the endoscope can not confirm the existence of the GERD.
The last one is the barium test. This test aims to check if there are obstacles or problems when swallowing food or drink. This test can show if there is a problem in the muscles of the digestive tract while swallowing. Barium is safe chemical substance and non-toxic.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Treatment
There are various kinds of treatment of GERD.
Here are some things that sufferers can do to relieve the symptoms of GERD:
- Lose weight if necessary.
- Eat in small portions but more often.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating
- Avoid chocolate, tomatoes, fatty foods, and spicy.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight.
Drugs To treat Stomach Acid or GERD
Antacids can be purchased at the pharmacy directly. Antacids are used to neutralize gastric acid. Not recommended to be taken with other drugs because it can have an impact on the level of absorption of other drugs.
The drug is consumed right after eating. Alginate serves to protect the walls of the stomach and the esophagus from the irritation of excessive stomach acid.This medicine can be purchased directly at the pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.
H2 receptor inhibitors or H2-receptor antagonist (H2RA)
These drugs reduce gastric acid by blocking the effects of histamine. Purchase of these drugs usually require a doctor’s prescription.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI)
This drug works to reduce the production of acid in the stomach. This drug rarely gives serious side effects. Examples of drugs PPI are omeprazole, lansoprazole and esomeprazole. These drugs usually require a prescription from a doctor.
Operation becomes final handling steps for GERD. if self-treatment and medications do not provide significant results, surgery can be an option at following conditions:
- The occurrence of severe inflammation in the esophagus.
- The occurrence of narrowing of the esophagus .
- The occurrence of changes in the cells of the esophagus caused by irritation of stomach acid, often referred to as Barrett’s esophagus.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Complications
GERD lasts for a long time. If it is left untreated, the disease can also cause complications. There are various complications that may be experienced by people with diseases of the stomach. The rate of complications due to the disease is also diverse, from mild to severe.
Most of the complications of the disease is an inflammation of the stomach acid or inflammation of the wall of the esophagus or gullet. Then, these complications will trigger other conditions, such as peptic ulcers.
Diseases of stomach acid can also aggravate the symptoms of other diseases, especially asthma. The following is a complete description of these complications.
Asthma : Asthma symptoms will worsen because the airways will be irritated by stomach acid. Asthma medications also exacerbate the symptoms of GERD.
The narrowing of the esophagus: That is damage to the walls of the lower part of the esophagus due to irritated stomach acid. After irritation , esophagus forms a scar tissue which consequently constricts the channel for the passage of food.
The wound on the wall of the esophagus or ulcers of the esophagus: Stomach acid can erode the esophageal wall and this can cause a wound or ulcer. Oesophagus ulcers can bleed and lead to the emergence of pain and difficulty when swallowing.
Barrett’s Esophagus : Changes in the cells on the wall of the esophagus can occur after irritated by stomach acid. This condition is called Barrett’s Esophagus and can be considered as a precancerous condition. Cell changes that occur do not yet have the properties of cancer. But later, these cells can trigger the emergence of cancer cells but it is though as rarely.
Esophagus cancer: In addition to a result of GERD that are sustainable, there are some things that can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. The risk will be increased if the patient is a man, smokers, alcohol drinker and obese or overweight. The most common symptom of esophageal cancer is difficulty and pain when swallowing and weight loss.