Symptoms & Causes of GER & GERD

(Mechanical clearance is achieved by esophageal peristalsis; chemical clearance is achieved with saliva.) Normal clearance limits the amount of time the esophagus is exposed to refluxed acid or bile and gastric acid mixtures. Abnormal peristalsis can cause inefficient and delayed acid clearance. The lower esophageal sphincter-or, more accurately, the distal esophageal high-pressure zone (HPZ)-is the distal most segment of the esophagus (3-5 cm in adults) and can be anywhere from 2-5 cm in length. Maintenance of an adequate intra-abdominal HPZ is crucial in preventing GERD.

It also is believed that patients with Barrett’s esophagus should receive maximum treatment for GERD to prevent further damage to the esophagus. Procedures are being studied that remove the abnormal lining cells. Several endoscopic, non-surgical techniques can be used to remove the cells. These techniques are attractive because they do not require surgery; however, there are associated with complications, and the long-term effectiveness of the treatments has not yet been determined. Surgical removal of the esophagus is always an option.

To confirm the diagnosis, physicians often treat patients with medications to suppress the production of acid by the stomach. If the heartburn then is diminished to a large extent, the diagnosis of GERD is considered confirmed. This approach of making a diagnosis on the basis of a response of the symptoms to treatment is commonly called a therapeutic trial. In an ambulatory pH monitoring examination, the doctor puts a tiny tube into the esophagus that will stay there for 24 hours. While you go about your normal activities, it measures when and how much acid comes up into your esophagus.

Acid Reflux and Nausea

Reducing backflow, or reflux, of stomach acid and juices into the esophagus. An upper gastrointestinal series. These X-ray pictures of the esophagus and stomach may help find other problems that may be causing GERD symptoms. Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach.

Although many people can relieve their reflux disease symptoms by changes in their habits, diet, and lifestyle, others need to consult their health-care professional. Hiatal hernia is very common in people older than 50 years of age and often is not associated with GERD. Normally, the diaphragm acts as an additional barrier, helping the lower esophageal sphincter keep acid from backing up into the esophagus. Acid reflux can be aggravated by many different things, including lifestyle, medication, diet, pregnancy, weight gain, and certain medical conditions.

It’s time to see your doctor if you have acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week or if medications don’t bring lasting relief. Symptoms such as heartburn are the key to the diagnosis of acid reflux disease, especially if lifestyle changes, antacids, or acid-blocking medications help reduce these symptoms. To find out if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your doctor may first ask you questions about your symptoms, such as whether you have a frequent uncomfortable feeling of burning, warmth, heat, or pain just behind the breastbone (heartburn). If you have heartburn often, your doctor may prescribe medicines to treat GERD without doing any other tests.

Most cases of gastroesophageal reflux in infants and very young children are benign and respond to conservative nonpharmacologic treatment (developmental disabilities represent an important diagnostic exception); 80% resolve by age 18 months (55% resolve by age 10 mo). Some patients require a “step-up” to acid-reducing medications, and only a very small minority require surgery. Because symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux after age 18 months likely represents a chronic condition, long-term risks are increased.

If it is not transient, endoscopic treatment to stretch (dilate) the artificial sphincter usually will relieve the problem. Only occasionally is it necessary to re-operate to revise the prior surgery. There are problems with using pH testing for diagnosing GERD. Despite the fact that normal individuals and patients with GERD can be separated fairly well on the basis of pH studies, the separation is not perfect.

Some physicians – primarily surgeons – recommend that all patients with Barrett’s esophagus should have surgery. This recommendation is based on the belief that surgery is more effective than endoscopic surveillance or ablation of the abnormal tissue followed by treatment with acid-suppressing drugs in preventing both the reflux and the cancerous changes in the esophagus. There are no studies, however, demonstrating the superiority of surgery over drugs or ablation for the treatment of GERD and its complications. Moreover, the effectiveness of drug treatment can be monitored with 24 hour pH testing. The drugs described above usually are effective in treating the symptoms and complications of GERD.

Upper GI tract findings in patients with heartburn in whom proton pump inhibitor treatment failed versus those not receiving antireflux treatment . Majority of symptoms in esophageal reflux PPI non-responders are not related to reflux . Development of the GerdQ, a tool for the diagnosis and management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in primary care . GERD is a complex disease with a heterogeneous symptom profile and a multifaceted pathogenic basis that defies a simple diagnostic algorithm or categorical classification.

Pregnancy can also cause acid reflux due to extra pressure being placed on the internal organs. One cause that is not preventable is a hiatal (or hiatus) hernia. A hole in the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, sometimes leading to GERD. The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to protect it from the powerful acid, but the esophagus is not protected. Acid reflux creates a burning pain in the lower chest area, often after eating.

For instance, surgeons can take the top of the stomach, and use it to create a new valve by wrapping it around the lower esophagus, Upchurch said. This surgery can be done laparoscopically, in which doctors insert a laparoscope – a thin, lighted tube – into a small incision in the abdominal wall. Frequent heartburn is a common symptom of GERD, and often becomes worse when the person bends or lies down. However, heartburn is just a symptom and may also occur from time to time in people who don’t have GERD. GERD is very common problem in the United States.

acid reflux symptom disease

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