Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease is characterized by troublesome symptoms which impair a person’s quality of life and/or cause injury and complications that result from the retrograde (or backward) flow of gastric contents from the stomach into the esophagus, oropharynx and/or respiratory tract.
An acidic environment is required to aid in digestion.
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which opens when swallowing and closes once food passes, does not close properly. This allows digestive acids and stomach contents to be regurgitated back up the food pipe.
Left untreated, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may result in long-term complications, including:
Heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, is the most common symptom of GERD.
Regurgitation is the perception of flow of refluxed gastric content into the mouth of throat. Individuals usually regurgitation acidic contents which may contain small amounts of undigested food.
You should consult a gastroenterologist if your symptoms occur more than 1-2 days per week.
Apart from heartburn and regurgitation, acid reflux may be accompanied by:
Continuous acid reflux can ultimately cause the stomach acid to flow back up the esophagus and into the mouth. This repeatedly exposes the teeth to the stomach acid, eventually resulting in dry mouth conditions, dental plaque, cavities and tooth decay.
Depending on the cause, acid reflux treatment can be as simple as avoiding certain food, beverages and activities that may trigger symptoms. For instance, eating smaller meals at least 3 hours before bedtime, maintaining a healthy weight, as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle can help prevent acid reflux episodes.
Medications are prescribed if symptoms of acid reflux persist or worsen. These include:
If symptoms do not improve with medications and lifestyle modifications, surgery is advised. Currently, there are two procedures used to address acid reflux and GERD: