acid reflux help

 

Diseases of Acid-Reflux

Glossary 

Acid-Reflux / GERD

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD),  more commonly referred to as ‘acid reflux’ disease. Frequent or regular back up of stomach juices from the stomach into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and sometimes damaging the lining of the esophagus itself. Occasional reflux is normal, but when it occurs regularly and disrupts daily life, it is described as a disease - Gastro esophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD and can contribute to cancer where the stomach and esophagus meet.

Heartburn

  • Has nothing to do with the heart. It's an acid indigestion. A typical symptom of gastroesophageal reflux. The burning sensation is also referred to as ‘heart burn’, since it is often felt in about the same place the heart rests in the chest cavity.It usually occurs just after eating and can last a few minutes to several hours. Chronic persistent heartburn that last three or more month and occurs at least twice each and every week is often diagnosed as Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Symptoms of heartburn are often mistaken for signs of a heart attack. Pain from a heart condition is usually made worse by physical activity, but heartburn is not usually caused by physical activity.

Hiatal Hernia

  • Pushing up of the stomach into the chest cavity through a weakness in the diaphragm. Hiatal hernias are very common, especially in people over 50 years old. This condition may cause reflux (backflow) of gastric acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Failure to control the symptoms by general or medical measures, or the appearance of complications, may require surgical repair of the hernia.

 

Gastroesophogeal reflux disorder (GERD) or more commonly referred to as ‘acid reflux’ disease is a painful and common disorder in adults of all ages, particularly in people 40 and over.  The disorder is caused by the juices of the stomach backing up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation and sometimes damaging the lining of the esophagus itself.  The burning sensation is also referred to as ‘heart burn’, since it is often felt in about the same place the heart rests in the chest cavity. 

Many of the digestive enzymes of the stomach, such as pepsin, work best at an extremely low pH, or in other words a very acidic environment.  It is for this reason that ‘parietal’ cells of the stomach lining produce and pump large quantities of the chemical hydrochloric acid into the stomach.  Stomach fluids are therefore highly acidic, reaching pH’s as low as 1, which is about ten times more acidic than common battery acid, and a million times more acidic than water.  It is this acid that causes the discomfort and damage associated with acid reflux disease.

The disorder can develop for a number of reasons.  There is a lot of evidence suggesting that a likelihood to develop the disease can be genetic.  Also, any trauma or injury to the esophageal sphincter, the circular muscle responsible for keeping stomach fluids out of the esophagus, can lead to the disorder.  Such injury can be caused by frequent vomiting, or by a hiatal hernia. 

The bad news is that once you develop acid reflux disease, you are going to have it for life.  The good news is there are a wide variety of excellent treatments for the disorder that are now available, some by prescription and some over the counter.  There are also a number of measures people can take to reduce the symptoms of acid reflux in addition to the use of medication.