All About Acid Reflux Disease, also known as G.E.R.D.
and Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options
Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Chronic Acid Reflux Disease Guide
Welcome to "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease" which is a much more common medical condition than widely believed. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as "GERD" (sometimes called heartburn) happens when the lower esophageal does not close fully (staying open slightly) thus stomach contents can leak back, or 'reflux' back into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
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When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has chronic acid reflux disease. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease", and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.
Anyone, including infants, children, and pregnant women, can develop ChronicAcideReflux Disease.
Symptoms of Chronic Acid Reflux Disease
The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease" without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat or like you are choking or your throat is tight. "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease" can also cause a dry cough, dry mouth disease, and related bad breath concerns.
Chronic Acid Reflux Issues with Children
Studies* show that "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease" is common and may be overlooked in infants and children. GERD can cause repeated vomiting, coughing, and other respiratory problems. Children's immature digestive systems are usually to blame, and most infants grow out of chronic acid reflux disease by the time they are 1 year old. Still, you should talk to your child's doctor if the problem occurs regularly and causes pain and discomfort.
Your doctor may recommend simple strategies for avoiding reflux, like burping the infant several times during feeding or keeping the infant in an upright position for 30 minutes after feeding. If your child is older, the doctor may recommend avoiding:
- sodas that contain caffeine
- chocolate and peppermint
- spicy foods like pizza
- acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes
- fried and fatty foods
Avoiding food 2 to 3 hours before bed usually helps a lot. The doctor may recommend that the child sleep with head raised. If these changes do not work, the doctor may prescribe medicine for your child. In rare cases, a child may need surgery.
*Jung AD. Gastroesophageal reflux in infants and children. American Family Physician. 2001;64(11):1853–1860.
Causes of "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease"
No one knows why people get ChronicAcidReflux disease. A hiatal hernia may contribute. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps the LES keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. When a hiatal hernia is present, it is easier for the acid to come up. In this way, a hiatal hernia can cause reflux. A hiatal hernia can happen in people of any age; many otherwise healthy people over 50 have a small one.
Other factors that may contribute to "Chronic Acid Reflux Disease" include
- alcohol use
Also, certain foods can be associated with reflux events, including
- citrus fruits
- drinks with caffeine
- fatty and fried foods
- garlic and onions
- mint flavorings
- spicy foods
- tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, and pizza