Gastroesophageal reflux disease is known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and is a condition, which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed because of acid backing up from the stomach. Acid reflux is not just a problem for adults, it happens in kids, teens, and babies as well.
About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Reflux means that stomach acid and juices flow from the stomach back up into the tub that leads from the throat to the stomach. The esophagus is the tube leading from the throat to the stomach. When food is swallowed, it travels down the stomach. When the esophagus fails, stomach acid can seep back into. This will agitate the stomach, which causes acid reflux or heartburn. If you have heartburn that bothers you a lot it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you have heartburn from time to time, it does not necessarily mean that you have reflux disease.
A lot of people have reflux regularly, which is not a cause for concern. However with Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, reflux occurs more often and causes noticeable discomfort. After every meal, GERD causes heartburn, which is known as acid indigestion. It will feel like a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat. After you eat a meal, food will pass from the throat through the esophagus, which is known as the food pipe or swallowing tube. Once the food reaches the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers prevents the food from moving backward into the esophagus. The muscle of fibers is called the lower esophageal sphincter or Les. If the sphincter muscle does not close tightly, food, liquid and stomach acid flow from the stomach and back up causing reflux. When acid reflux occurs, food or fluid can be tasted in the back of the mouth and throat.
Causes of GERD
No one knows for sure the exact cause of GERD, but there are a few possibilities that can irritate it.
Hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the diaphragm, which is a muscle that separates the stomach from the chest. Normally, the diaphragm will help keep acid in the stomach, but if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move food up into the esophagus and cause symptoms of GERD.
- Symptoms of hiatal hernia causes persistent coughing,
- Vomiting, straining, or sudden physical exertion.
- It is very common in people over 50
- It usually does not require treatment but if it gets twisted surgery may be necessary.
- Poor posture
- Eating large meals before bedtime
- Eating fatty foods, spicy foods, mint, chocolate, garlic, onions, caffeine drinks, and some acid foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes
- Certain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications
Risk Factors of GERD
- Hiatal Hernia
Symptoms of GERD
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the lower part of the mid-chest, behind the breastbone, and in the mid-abdomen. It is also called acid indigestion and can last as long as 2 hours. It usually gets worse after eating. Not everyone has heartburn with GERD.
- Babies can vomit and get fussy after feeding
- Regurgitation is a sour or bitter-tasting acid that backs up into a person’s throat or mouth.
- Dysphasia is a narrowing of the esophagus, which creates the sensation of food being stuck in your throat.
- Nausea after eating
- Persistent dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
If your child is not eating because of these complications as its makes eating painful and is losing weight, it is very important to see your doctor.
Complications of GERD
- Barrett’s esophagus is a change in the lining of the esophagus that can increase the risk of cancer.
- Bronchospasm which is the irritation and spasm of the airways due to stomach acid
- Chronic cough or hoarseness
- Dental problems
- Stomach ulcer
- Inflammation of the stomach
- Stricture, which is a narrowing of the esophagus due to scarring from inflammation.
Complications of GERD in children
- Stomach, and chest discomfort
- Scar tissue in the stomach which could make it hard to swallow
- Asthma symptoms
- Bleeding in the stomach
- Redness and irritation in the stomach, which is called esophagitis
Prevention of GERD
- Lose weight
- Stop Drinking
- Stop Smoking
- Change eating habits
- Avoid or limit fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine and other foods that irritate your stomach
- Avoid working out, bending, or stooping on a full stomach