Published: 07/25/2013 - Updated: 08/14/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
After a spicy meal or after eating irritating foods, some people are affected by heartburn and a feeling that food is coming back up the oesophagus. If you have experienced this sensation at any time in your life, you have experienced reflux: A condition that affects a large part of the population.
Learn about this condition and how you can tackle the problem, finally saying goodbye to annoying reflux symptoms.
What is it?
The digestive process is quite simple to understand: First of all, food passes through the oesophagus to the stomach. Before reaching the stomach, there is a membrane called the oesophageal sphincter that opens and closes to allow the passage of food and to keep acid and food in the stomach during the digestion process.
When there is a malfunction of the oesophageal sphincter, resulting in it not having enough force to keep it open and closed, this causes the ascension of stomach acid into the oesophagus and therefore causing the annoying burning sensation and pain in the chest area, which if not attended to, can lead to serious problems.
Symptoms of reflux
Reflux symptoms are diverse and occur for different reasons and in different areas. However, the most common are:
Sensation of abdominal pain: It is common in pregnancy or if you are overweight as this increases the pressure generated on the abdomen, which in turn causes the oesophageal sphincter to not close properly. This ultimately results in heartburn and the painful feeling in the chest area.
Problems in the neck: A common and very characteristic symptom is the feeling that food is coming back up from the stomach (regurgitation), causing much discomfort. It is sometimes accompanied by a raspy voice and irritation of the vocal cords.
Oral problems: Bad breath or dental problems may arise due to gastroesophageal reflux.
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Chest discomfort: A burning chest pain goes along with this condition and is commonly referred to as heartburn.
Other symptoms: If the condition continues and becomes more advanced, you may experience symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting blood and trouble swallowing food.
How can I diagnose it?
As many reflux symptoms are associated with other diseases simultaneously, some studies can be made that tell us whether it is or not reflux. The most used are:
Oesophageal manometry: This involves inserting a tube through the mouth to reach the oesophagus and sensors are used to measure how much pressure is on the area of the oesophageal sphincter.
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pH monitoring: A tube which feeds through the nose into the oesophagus is worn and a device capable of recording acidity levels for 24 hrs monitors the oesophagus.
Endoscopy: An endoscopy is one of the most common testing methods and it involves introducing a camera sensor that helps determine the state of the digestive system as well as whether there is the presence of a hiatal hernia, as this is an important factor that determines the presence of reflux in the body.
You can opt for various treatments depending on how advanced the condition is:
For acute phases
• Using antacids
• Maintaining the right weight for our body type
• Avoiding spicy or irritating foods
For severe or chronic phases
When the condition becomes constant, reflux can cause permanent damage and it is therefore advisable to opt for surgery. The hiatal plasty is a procedure in which a laparoscope, through small incisions in the stomach, is wrapped around the oesophagus to increase pressure in the area and to avoid this discomfort.
It is very important to evaluate your case with a specialist in order to first fix any bad habits you may have which are provoking a case of reflux. If you really want to say goodbye to the condition, you must first identify its cause in order to identify the most suitable remedy for you.
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