Acid reflux or GERD is a problem that many people face on a daily basis. Although everyone has experiences reflux from time to time, a patient with persistant acid reflux suffers from frequent burning, painful sensations as the stomach liquids back up into the esophagus. This can be an uncomfortable and even serious medical problem.
In most cases, the symptoms of acid reflux are painful and uncomfortable but not seriously damaging to a person’s health. These types of symptoms are referred to as “uncomplicated” acid reflux. The three most common symptoms are nausea, regurgitation, and heartburn.
Patients with acid reflux often report suffering from nausea. In fact, nausea as a result of acid reflux is so common that when a patient experiences nausea with no apparent cause, a doctor usually suspects acid reflux as the culprit.
Equally as common as nausea occurring from acid reflux is regurgitation. Regurgitation occurs when refluxed liquid backs up into the mouth. Sometimes, this liquid can contain small food particles. When a patient regurgitates, they often experience a burning sensation as refluxed liquid and food bypass both the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) and the UES (upper esophageal sphincter) and make their way into the mouth. This burning is often accompanied by an nasty acidic taste. If regurgitation is frequently experienced it can cause damage to the teeth as the acidic substance erodes the enamel that encases each tooth.
Probably the most common reported complaint of acid reflux patients is the presence of heartburn. This is usually characterized as a searing pain in the chest. It can either begin in your upper abdomen or spread up to the base of your neck. For some patients, this can be a cause for alarm. In fact, many people have mistaken painful acid reflux for a heart attack. Heartburn is especially prevalent after eating meals. Although heartburn usually goes away, the bad news is that it will usually eventually return.
Although most forms of acid reflux do not pose serious health risks, there are complications that can occur from acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). One of the most common symptoms of GERD comes in the form of ulcers. Refluxed liquid from the stomach can, over time, damage the lining of the esophagus and inflammation can occur. If the damage is deep enough, an ulcer may form. Scar tissue from a damaged esophagus that is continually trying to heal can form a “stricture” or narrowing of the esophagus, which can cause food to get lodged or stuck in the esophagus.
Another complication that can arise from acid reflux or GERD is a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus. If a person has severe GERD, over time this causes changes to the cells that surround and line the esophagus. These can turn pre-cancerous and may even eventually evolve into cancer cells.
There are many other complications that sometimes occur as a result of acid reflux. Asthma and coughs can be intensified or sparked by acid reflux. The same is true of inflammation of the throat, larynx, or lungs. A patient can also experience frequent infections in his sinuses or middle ears.
Although the complications associated with acid reflux and GERD are rare, it is important to keep in mind that acid reflux is a condition that should be treated by your doctor.
There are also a variety of effective home remedies for acid reflux you can try alongside any medication you may have been prescribed. These can be an extremely effective way of keeping acid reflux and GERD symptoms under control naturally.
If properly managed, acid reflux or GERD is a highly treatable condition. If left unattended, you risk the possibility of causing irreparable damage to your body.
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