Acid reflux is a common condition; it occurs when some of the stomach’s acid content goes up into the food pipe (oesophagus).
If you’re sounding slightly hoarse and have a painful throat, you might be on the verge of catching a cold or the flu. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for a long time, they may be symptoms of something else… acid reflux.
There are muscles known as sphincters between your food pipe and the origin of your stomach. When they contract, it stops the regurgitation of stomach contents back into the food pipe.
Gastroesophageal reflux is the medical name for a condition where acid contents naturally produced within the stomach go up (backwards) into the food pipe due to a sphincter malfunction.
Hydrochloric acid, a powerful acid, is produced in the stomach; it aids in the digestion of food while also protecting against ingested harmful microbes. The stomach lining is tough and rugged and can withstand this powerful acid, but the oesophagus is not.
The stomach and oesophagus together are referred to as “gastroesophageal tract”. The word “reflux” implies “to flow back” or “to return.” When the contents of your stomach return up into your oesophagus, this is known as gastroesophageal reflux.
Acid reflux affects many people at some point in their lives. Mild acid reflux may occur up to twice a week, moderate to severe acid reflux happens daily. If the contents of your stomach keep re-entering your oesophagus, it can lead to a wide variety of symptoms and even serious diseases.
The symptoms of acid reflux might vary widely from person to person and are categorised from mild to severe. They tend to be more problematic with posture, for example, when lying down, especially after a large meal intake!
Acid reflux can occur at any time of the day. Severe symptoms, on the other hand, are more common at night. Regurgitated acid can sometimes creep all the way upto the pharynx and then trickle down into the respiratory airways. This can lead to irritation of the upper airways producing the symptoms of a persistent dry cough.
A frequent sign of acid reflux is a burning sensation in the chest, commonly referred to as heartburn. Heartburn is not the same as a heart attack.
Acid regularly creeping to the oesophagus causes damage to the more delicate oesophageal surface, which causes inflammation and irritation. You may feel a burning feeling in your chest due to this irritation.
Heartburn can vary in severity from somewhat irritating to unbearable. It should be noted that the burning sensations aren’t always indicative of long-term damage to the oesophagus.
Having a sour or bitter taste in your mouth might be caused by the backwash of stomach acid rising to the back of your throat or mouth. In addition, your throat and mouth may feel like they’re on fire.
Regurgitation is a problem for certain people. Instead of food contents going down, this is the sensation of liquids, food, or bile flowing up to your throat. Vomiting is an unusual but known symptom of this phenomenon.
Discomfort in the upper midsection of the stomach is a hallmark of dyspepsia. Dyspepsia may cause heartburn. Pain can be fleeting but is usually sharp and burning. Dyspepsia can make people feel bloated, feel nauseous or make them burp a lot.
If you regularly experience these symptoms, they should be taken very seriously. They may indicate peptic ulcer disease, independent of acid reflux or due to GORD. Peptic ulcers can occasionally bleed, the severity of which ranges from the patient not even knowing they have ulcers to severe vomiting (haematemesis) and passing of blood from the faeces (melena). Perforation is another serious complication of peptic ulcer disease and is always a medical emergency; this happens when a hole in the stomach has been created.
Every year, at least one in every twenty-five persons suffers from painful swallowing, also called dysphagia.
Dysphagia can have a variety of underlying reasons. Stomach acid can cause irritation of the throat, and common symptoms would be coughing and having a lump in your throat. It is important to note, dysphagia can also have other even more serious causes such as throat cancer, and for this reason, and it requires urgent and diligent further investigation.
Acid reflux and heartburn are different but related. The oesophagus is where it all begins. The majority of the oesophageal muscle is made of smooth muscle.
The valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach is located at the very bottom of the oesophagus. Usually, that valve is closed. It opens and then shuts again to let food bolus pass through after you have swallowed.
For those who suffer from acid reflux, the valve that prevents stomach contents from flowing backwards into the oesophagus opens unintentionally or poorly shut, leading to unpleasant sensations.
Acid reflux causes heartburn which is the symptom. Some people describe the pain as acute, scorching, or tenseness. When it comes to experiencing heartburn, some individuals describe it as excruciating pain in the back of the neck or throat.
When you eat, you’re more likely to have heartburn. The pain might worsen if you bend over or lie on your back. Regurgitation can also be caused by acid reflux.
Reflux disease is also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease. When stomach contents flow back up into the oesophagus. A chronic cough or the feeling of a lump in your throat are additional symptoms of reflux.
To avoid long-term complications, GORD must be adequately treated.
Acid reflux should initially be controlled with lifestyle adjustments (diet, exercise, eating patterns) and over-the-counter drugs such as antacids.
Acid reflux can be neutralized by taking antacids like Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Riopan. However, excessive use might lead to diarrhoea or constipation.
If antacids fail to alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may recommend further treatments to cure acid reflux. Proton pump inhibitors are excellent medications to control stomach acid levels and have shown great benefits for patients.
Examples of Proton pump inhibitors are Lansoprazole 15mg, Lansoprazole 30mg, Omeprazole 10mg, Omeprazole 20mg, esomeprazole 20mg and esomeprazole 40mg. Your doctor may recommend a combination of drugs, such as foaming agents (Gaviscon) and proton pump inhibitors (Lansoprazole).