Updated: May 30, 2021
What exactly is acid reflux? (commonly known as acidity) When a person swallows, food passes down the esophagus, also referred to as the food pipe, into the stomach, which contains acid to help digest food. If this acid leaks back up into the food pipe, it is called acid reflux, which can even go upto the oral cavity or larynx (voice box). If these symptoms occur for more than twice a week for more than three weeks, it is called GERD, i.e., Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
Who is at risk of acid reflux?
Overweight or obesity
Smoking and Alcohol consumption
Caffeinated or carbonated beverages
Eating large meals, taking late night meals and lying down immediately after meals
Heartburn (feeling of burning sensation in chest or throat. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth leaving a bitter or acidic taste),
Stomach pain, pressure, fullness, bloating, nausea,
Cough, throat irritation, feeling of lump in throat, sore-throat, voice change,
Diagnosis and Investigations Diagnosis of GERD is often based on symptoms and clinical findings and confirmed by response to therapy. However, investigations are needed when symptoms are present for long term or are not responding to standard therapy or when one is suspecting complications.
Upper GI endoscopy: here an endoscope is used to visualize and monitor the status of esophagus (food pipe)
Esophageal pH monitoring: here, one electrode is passed in the esophagus and pH monitoring is done. Treatment Majority of the cases respond well to a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment, only a few patients need surgical management. Lifestyle changes
Avoid large meals, avoid acidic foods (citrus- and tomato-based products), alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, onions, garlic, and peppermint and Decrease dietary fat intake.
Avoid lying down within three to four hours after a meal.
Elevate the head of the bed 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 inches).
Avoid wearing clothing that is tight around the waist.
Lose weight and stop smoking.
Medical Therapy he commonly used drugs for GERD are as follows:
Antacids: (commonly available drugs: syrup digene, Syrup mucaingel) these drug neutralize the stomach acid and relieves heartburn.
H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors: (commonly available drugs- tablet ranitidine, tablet pantoprazole) These drugs decrease acid production. They are to be taken 30-60 minutes before taking a meal.
When to consult a doctor?
When you have any of the above typical or atypical symptoms of GERD
When you have no improvement inspite of routine medical management
When you have warning symptoms suggesting complications of GERD like difficulty in swallowing, pain while swallowing, GI bleeding, vomiting, weight loss.