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By Tom Houser
The causes of acid reflux (GERD) are rather simple should they not lead to complications. GERD without complications causes heartburn, nausea, and regurgitation. However, the complications are rather severe, ranging from an ulcerated esophagus, symptoms of coughing and asthma to Barrett’s esophagus which left untreated can lead to esophageal cancer and eventually death. So, it is best to seek treatment for the symptoms of Acid Reflux disease (GERD) before complications have set in.
What is Acid Reflux Disease?
Acid reflux disease is frequent (and sometimes not so frequent) regurgitation (liquid or food being forced in reverse direction in the digestive system) of digestive juices into the esophagus. These juices contain the digestive juices, one of which is a very strong acid (hydrochloric acid, HCL) which burns the lower esophagus and causes much pain and sometimes regurgitation of small amounts of liquid into the mouth. Acid reflux also causes heartburn and nausea.
Should these symptoms persist without monitoring and treatment the disease can lead to precancerous skin cells growing in the esophagus, this is called Barrett’s esophagus and can lead to cancer of the esophagus.
What causes acid reflux disease?
There are several causes of GERD. Acid reflux disease can be caused by any one of several disorders of the upper digestive tract. It is also a possible disturbance pregnancy because both hormones and the growing fetus are pushing on the digestive tract and can cause relaxation or opening of the lower esophageal sphincter which can cause a reflux of digestive juices into the esophagus and thus acid reflux disease. Hiatal hernia, which is a hernia or distention of the walls of the lower esophagus weakens the lower esophagus and thus sometimes causes GERD. The reason it only causes this in some cases is not known. There are several others such as congenital weakness or other abnormalities in the lower esophagus.
Signs and symptoms of acid reflux disease
The chief signs and symptoms are heartburn, a pain in the lower esophagus caused by the acid having prolonged contact with the unprotected lining of the lower esophagus. Nausea and regurgitation are the common symptoms which are caused by some of the digestive juices being forced up into the mouth.
Burning feeling in chest or heartburn after taking your food, burning sensation in throat, becoming croaky and even loosing voice, lingering bitter acidic taste in mouth, continuous coughing, finding it difficult to swallow are other few common symptoms.
The larger problem with GERD is with the possible complications that can occur with prolonged damage of the lower esophagus. Barrett’s cells have been discussed and are a serious complication that can lead to esophageal cancer. Other complications are an ulcerated esophagus, and coughing for unknown reasons, either because of the irritation in the region of the lungs and esophagus, or because an asthma attack has been triggered.
Treatment of acid reflux disease
The treatments for GERD (acid reflux disease) are certain medications, and a change of diet and other minor lifestyle changes that assist in decreasing the symptoms. Acidic foods are eliminated, fatty foods which can lower the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) and thus open it and cause acid reflux. Changes in sleeping patterns are also needed to prevent heartburn at night.
About the Author: T. Houser
Acid Reflux Treatments