Acid reflux is a digestive condition in which the acid from the stomach flows backward, reaching into the esophagus. This causes severe discomfort and distress. This process can even lead to heartburn and chest pain. The condition is treatable, but is often chronic and long-lasting.
What Causes Acid Reflux
There is not only one cause for acid reflux. The condition can be brought on by a number of factors. This includes smoking, being overweight and overeating, eating certain foods like things that are fried or spicy, and even drinking alcohol. Certain medications may also cause the reflux to occur. Women who are pregnant have a higher chance of getting the disease.
Heartburn is one of the main issues associated with acid reflux. It may occur while eating, or even afterward while laying down. Minor heartburn can typically be relieved with the the help of antacids. This is the first thing a doctor will prescribe to a patient with acid reflux. He or she will also discuss lifestyle changes that need to be made. Losing weight is typically a first step for many. The doctor may also discuss ceasing to smoke and stopping the use of alcohol. He or she will direct patients to avoid spicy foods, foods that are fried, citrus items, and even chocolate, all of which can cause reflux to occur.
Other Symptoms of Reflux
There are a variety of other symptoms associated with reflux. Dyspepsia is a common symptom. This condition is also known as indigestion. It causes discomfort within the stomach. It often makes people feel full fast, experiencing nausea immediately after. It may also cause bloating.
A chronic cough can also develop. It is typically experienced along with heartburn. This is due to the narrowing of the esophagus, and the lungs filling with acid from the stomach. It may also cause shortness of breath. A second disease, known as Barrett’s Esophagus, can develop due to acid reflux. This is when the reflux has caused too much damage to the lining within the esophagus. Difficulty breathing and severe coughing will occur.
In order to determine which stage the reflux is at, as well as what other problems may have developed because of it, diagnostic testing is needed. There are multiple tests that can be performed to help determine the significance of the condition and any damage it has done.
A barium swallow uses barium sulfate to help check for abnormalities. It shows up on an x-ray to help determine where the issues may lie.
An EGD, or upper endoscopy, uses a scope to make its way into the upper digestive tract. It has a camera and light included to allow the doctor to see clearly. One of these two tests should help determine the issue.
Acid reflux is a serious condition that causes severe discomfort. As soon as symptoms are experienced, those suffering should speak to a physician about the condition. With lifestyle changes and prescribed medication, the condition can be lessened and the symptoms eliminated.