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Esophageal reflux

Acid Reflux Disease or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) afflicts millions worldwide and dietary restrictions can form the first line of treatment and in most mild cases a change in diet can bring significant relief. Certain food items can precipitate or aggravate Acid Reflex disease - like for instance - Whole Milk can trigger GERD for people who have lactose intolerance which affects most people of almost all ethnic origins except Caucasians.


You might feel an upper abdominal pain or discomfort on consumption of a heavy meal or when bending to lift an object. Acid reflux symptoms tend to make an appearance at night, when you are lying on your back. This may result in nausea after eating or stomach bloating and burping. Women tend to suffer more from acid reflux symptoms during pregnancy due to the pressure from the growing fetus and the increased hormone levels.


Tackling GERD - Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease


  • Eat frequent small meals during the day. Avoid big meals.
  • Include complex carbohydrates in each meal.
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol, chocolate and caffeinated drink.
  • Do not lie down on a full stomach. Instead sit in an upright position for about 45 minutes after each meal.
  • Stay clear of high-fat meals as they will trigger an acid attack on the stomach.
  • Smoking can weaken the lower esophageal muscles. Tobacco aggravates the condition of Acid Reflux disease.
  • Maintain healthy body weight. Shed excess weight to curb acid reflux symptoms.
  • Chewing gum or sucking on candy can cause swallowing of air, thereby worsening acid reflux and belching.
  • Avoid tight clothing, especially around the abdomen.
  • Do not drink water during mealtimes but instead drink a glass or two of water about half an hour before a meal.

Persons suffering from acid reflux disease would do well to maintain a diary of foods consumed daily. This can help identify any potential triggers so that you can eliminate them from your diet.

Esophagitis

Esophagitis is a condition where there is inflammation and swelling of the esophagus. Esophagitis is caused by stomach acid reflux, fungal or viral infection of the esophagus, certain medications and weakened immune system. If esophagitis is left untreated, it can lead to ulcers and difficulty in swallowing. This can lead to scarring of the esophagus and a situation where food may stick in the area (dysphagia). Often Hiatus Hernia causes Esophagitis since the distension of the stomach through the diaphragm muscle hampers the draining of food and stomach acid. This results in the damage of the esophageal tissue. Candida yeast infection can develop in the esophagus and lead to esophagitis. It attacks when the immune system is weakened and is treated with anti-fungal drugs.


A person suffering from esophagitis has difficulty in swallowing and nausea and vomiting. There are mouth sores. Heartburn involves acid reflux into the esophagus as a burning sensation with a bitter-tasting liquid that may regurgitate into the mouth. A patient can reduce the symptoms of esophagitis by eating smaller meals and avoiding eating for 2 hours before going to bed. Avoid too much spices and acidic food and beverages. Take small bites and chew food thoroughly before swallowing. Place your head at an elevation while sleeping to prevent regurgitation and stomach acid reflux. Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, peppermint and fatty foods can aggravate the condition.


The physician can view the esophagus with an endoscope to look for scarring and inflammation. A biopsy can be taken for diagnosis. A Barium swallow involves use of a special dye to facilitate x-ray of the esophagus and check for abnormalities. Antacids can help in reducing stomach acid reflux. Medication to improve the strength of the LES muscle can help in treating esophagitis. Antibiotics or anti-fungal drugs may be prescribed to treat the infection. Inflammation can be reduced with the help of Corticosteroid medication. Surgery is resorted to in cases where there is a hiatus hernia or to remove the damaged part of the esophagus.


Hiatal Hernia

A hernia is a condition where a part of the body protrudes through an opening into another part of the body. Most hernias are found in the abdominal area. A hiatal hernia is usually located at the opening of the diaphragm and is an anatomical abnormality of the esophagus. Then the hiatal hernia displaces the muscle band at the lower end of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) and leads to gastroesophageal reflux. As a result, stomach acid flows into the esophagus leading to esophagitis. Hiatal hernia is noticed among obese persons and those who have sustained an injury to that part of the body. Women are at increased risk and so are smokers.


Heartburn is the primary complaint of patients suffering from hiatal hernia. There is belching and feeling of vomiting. Many patients feel that there is something lodged in their chest. Coughing, vomiting or physical exertion can worsen the symptoms of hiatal hernia. The symptoms worsen during pregnancy, lying down or lifting heavy objects. In some cases, a hiatal hernia may go unnoticed. Lifestyle changes like eliminating coffee, alcohol and smoking can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with hiatus hernia. Sleeping with the head at a mild elevation can help prevent stomach acid reflux at night.


A barium x-ray can help in examining the upper digestive tract and checking for any backlash of stomach contents into the esophagus. An endoscopy helps diagnose a hiatal hernia and check for any inflammation of the esophagus. Antacids can help in neutralizing stomach acid. Drugs such as ranitidine, omeprazole or cimetidine are prescribed to reduce the secretion of stomach acid. Surgery is resorted to when there is a possibility of reduced or obstructed blood supply. This is done through laparoscopy to reduce pain, scarring and chances of infection.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: September 23, 2019