Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Diseases

Acid Reflux

About Acid Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle at the lower end of your esophagus relaxes at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to back up into your esophagus. Frequent or constant reflux can lead to a chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to protect it from the powerful acid, but the esophagus is not protected.

A ring of muscle, the gastroesophageal sphincter, normally acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up into the esophagus. When this valve fails, the contents in the stomach backs up into the esophagus, and symptoms of acid reflux are felt, such as heartburn.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

The main symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • Heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
  • An unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid

You may also have:

  • A cough or hiccups that keep coming back
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating and feeling sick
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Difficulty swallowing

Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.

Diagnosis of Acid Reflux/GERD

To determine if your heartburn is a symptom of GERD, the doctor may recommend:

  • Endoscopy, to check for abnormalities in your esophagus. Your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera (endoscope) down your throat, to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach. An endoscopy can also be used to collect a sample of tissue (biopsy) to be tested for complications such as Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Esophageal pH Monitoring and Impedance Testing, to identify when, and for how long, stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. An acid monitor that is placed in your esophagus connects to a small computer that you wear around your waist or on a strap over your shoulder.
  • Esophageal Manometry, This test measures the rhythmic muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow. Esophageal manometry also measures the coordination and force exerted by the muscles of your esophagus.
  • X-Ray of your upper digestive system : X-rays are taken after you drink a chalky liquid that coats and fills the inside lining of your digestive tract. The coating allows your doctor to see a silhouette of your esophagus, stomach and upper intestine. You may also be asked to swallow a barium pill that can help diagnose a narrowing of the esophagus that may interfere with swallowing.

Treatment of Acid Reflux

Over-the-counter medicines called antacids can help ease your symptoms.

It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.If symptoms persisits its is best you contact your gastroenterologist.