At the entrance of the human stomach, there is a valve and it is called as Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES. As soon as an individual consumes food, this LES will close. But, if it does not close all the way or it remains open very often, the acid produced by the stomach for digestive purpose will get into the esophagus. This condition causes Acid Reflux problem, wherein the individual will experience a burning sensation in the chest, which can otherwise be called as heartburn. If this acid reflex happens for more than two times a week, the individual will be diagnosed to have Acid Reflux Disease, which is otherwise called as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease shortened as GERD.
Causes of Acid Reflux Disease:
• The stomach abnormality, which is a problem called as hiatal hernia is stated to be an important contributor towards Acid Reflux Disease. This problem arises when the LES mentioned earlier and the upper part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm, which is the muscle that divides the stomach and the chest.
• In general, the diaphragm plays the role of keeping the acid in the human stomach. But, if an individual has hiatal hernia, the acid will travel to the esophagus, thereby causing GERD.
Common factors contributing towards GERD:
• Taking blood pressure medications, painkillers and muscle relaxants can create this problem
• Even pregnancy can create this issue in some women
• Frequent consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages can also cause GERD
• Some foods like spicy foods, garlic, tomatoes, citrus fruits, onion, garlic, mint and fatty foods
• Having oily snacks before bedtime
• Overweight and obesity
• Eating heavy meals and immediately lying down after meals can cause this condition.
How it is diagnosed?
The following methods are followed for diagnosing Acid Reflux Disease:
• Monitoring of pH level for checking the acid level in esophagus can be conducted. Here are device will be inserted by the doctor into the esophagus and will be left for 1-2 days for judging the level of acid.
• Endoscopy can be done, wherein a flexible tube will be inserted down the throat to the stomach or esophagus to check for abnormalities. For making the patient comfortable during this process, some sedatives will be given and an anesthetic spray can be given on the back of the throat.
• Esophageal Manometry is conducted to check the functioning of esophagus and its lower part.
• To check samples for infection a biopsy may be taken during endoscopy
• Esophagram is a test conducted by giving the patient barium to swallow, so that the pictures of the stomach will be clear during X-Ray process.
Generally, doctors will first recommend some lifestyle changes and medications such as foaming agents, proton pump inhibitors and prokinetics will be suggested and if these does not work out, the patient will be recommended to go for surgical procedure. There are two types of surgeries involved and the doctor will prescribe the right method after considering the condition of the patient.