Acid reflux disease, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs due to the coexistence of two medical conditions. The first acid reflux contributing condition is a retrograde flow of stomach contents into the esophagus. However, the reflux itself does not necessarily lead to gastro-esophageal reflux disease symptoms or histologic changes, and can occur among healthy individuals as well. In this case, the process is referred to as "physiologic gastroesophageal reflux".
The second acid reflux predisposing condition is a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) malfunction. The LES is a 3-cm to 4-cm ring of muscle, which is two to three times thicker than the proximal esophagus and acts as a valve between the esophagus and the stomach. In the case of acid reflux disease, the LES does not close perfectly and stomach contents splashes up into the esophagus. When pathologic symptoms follow this process, the whole condition is called acid reflux disease.
Gastro-esophageal refluxis usually experienced as a persistent (at least twice a week) heartburn. Heartburn is the burning sensation in the chest or throat, caused by refluxed stomach contents touching the lining of the esophagus. Since healthy individuals may also experience light reflux - occasional heartburn is common as well, and doesn't necessarily serve as an evidence of GERD.
Some GERD sufferers may also experience pain in the chest, cough, morning hoarseness, voice changes, difficulty swallowing (especially lumpy foods), chronic earache, burning chest pains, nausea or sinusitis. Some patients report a sensation that reminds food stuck, choking or tightness in the throat. This happens due to continuous stomach contents acid flow that comes into contact with the esophagus and causes inflammation of the esophagus resulting in scars from tissue damage.
Untreated acid reflux can lead to serious health complications. Those include stricture formation, bleeding, ulcers and esophageal spasms. When the stomach acid reaches the upper esophagus and trachea, the process can result in a variety of severe conditions, such as asthma, sinusitis and pneumonia. Finally, some people may develop Barrett's esophagus, a condition that manifest in an abnormal shape and color of cells in the esophageal lining. This condition is a precursor to esophageal cancer, especially in adults over 60 years old.
Created on Dec 31st 1969 19:00. Viewed 0 times.