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Acid Reflux Disease: The Truth On Why You Have Heartburn

Jul 15, 2008
Heartburn, or GERD - gastro-esophageal reflux disease as it is known, is caused by the coincidence of two medical conditions. The first condition contributing to acid reflux disease is the backward flow of food and acid from the stomach to the esophagus. Nonetheless, the reflux does not always result in symptoms of acid reflux disease or changes in the organic tissues, and can happen in healthy individuals as well, when it is referred to as "physiologic gastroesophageal reflux".

The second factor encouraging acid reflux is a malfunction of the LES, the lower esophageal sphincter. The LES is a circle of muscle acting as a valve between the esophagus and the stomach, measuring 3-4 cm, some two to three times thicker than the proximal esophagus. In cases of acid reflux disease, the stomach contents is pushed back into the esophagus because the LES does not shut properly. This is then called acid reflux disease, when symptoms of the disease then follow.

The typical sensation of acid reflux disease is persistent (twice weekly or more) heartburn. Heartburn is the burning feeling in the chest or the throat, when the stomach contents is pushed back to the lining of the esophagus. As people in good health may also have light reflux, occasional heartburn is common as well and does not immediately mean acid reflux disease.

Other sufferers of acid reflux disease may also feel chest-pains or suffer from coughs, hoarseness in the morning, vocal changes, problems in swallowing (notably lumpy foods), lasting earache, burning pains in the chest, nausea or sinusitis. Some sufferers describe sensations of food being stuck, choking or tightness in the throat. This is caused by the continual flow back of stomach contents in contact with the esophagus, resulting in swelling of the esophagus due scars from histological damage.

Acid reflux disease left untreated can have serious health consequences. These include constriction, bleeding, ulcers and spasms of the esophagus. When the acid from the stomach gets to the trachea as well as the upper esophagus, several severe conditions such as asthma, sinusitis and pneumonia can occur. Some patients can develop a condition known as Barrett's esophagus, where abnormal shapes and colors of cells occur in the esophageal lining. This is an initial stage before esophageal cancer, notably in adults over 60 years old.

There are three options for treating acid reflux disease: surgery, medical therapy and holistic therapy that includes changes in diet and lifestyle and taking specific herbal supplements. Using surgery merits very careful consideration, given that certain underlying conditions can be complicated, such as constriction and muscular contraction disorders. PPIs and H2 blockers are among the options for medical intervention in cases of acid reflux disease. While it is possible to apply prescribed medications or acid blockers like these, remember that the results are sometimes only temporary and that conventional medicine can lead to serious side effects.

GERD, seen from a holistic viewpoint, is a warning signal for an internal imbalance of consequence that must be correctly treated. For this reason, alternative medicine such as herbal medicine, changes in lifestyle, homeopathic remedies as components of a complete holistic schedule are the clear recommendation for heartburn sufferers.
About the Author
Jeff Martin is an author of the best-selling e-book, "Heartburn No More- Open The Door To an Acid Reflux Free Life". To Learn More About His Unique 5-Step Holistic Acid Reflux Cure System Visit: Heartburn No More. For further information visit: Heartburn and Acid Reflux
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