Acid reflux or GERD is a problem that many people face on a daily basis. Although everyone has reflux, a patient with acid reflux actually experiences a burning, painful sensation as the stomach liquids back up into the esophagus. This can be an uncomfortable and even serious medical problem.
In most cases, the symptoms of acid reflux are painful and uncomfortable but not seriously damaging to a person’s health. These types of symptoms are referred to as “uncomplicated” acid reflux. The three most common symptoms are nausea, regurgitation, and heartburn.
Patients with acid reflux often report suffering from nausea. In fact, nausea as a result of acid reflux is so common that when a patient experiences nausea with no apparent cause, a doctor usually suspects acid reflux as the culprit.
Equally as common as nausea occurring from acid reflux is regurgitation. Regurgitation occurs when refluxed liquid actually backs up into the mouth. Sometimes, this liquid can contain food. When a patient regurgitates, they often experience a burning sensation as refluxed liquid and food bypass the UES (upper esophageal sphincter) and make their way into the mouth. This burning is often accompanied by an awful, acidic taste. If a patient continues to experience regurgitation, it can actually cause damage to their teeth as the acidic substance erodes the enamel that encases each tooth.
Probably the most common reported complaint of acid reflux patients is the presence of heartburn. This is usually characterized as a searing pain in the chest. It can either begin in your upper abdomen or actually travel up to your neck. For some patients, this can be a cause for alarm. In fact, many people have mistaken painful acid reflux for a heart attack. Heartburn is especially prevalent after eating meals. Although heartburn usually goes away, the bad news is that it is usually a lifelong problem that will eventually return.
Although most forms of acid reflux do not pose serious health risks, there are complications that can occur from acid reflux. One of the most common complications comes in the form of ulcers. If the liquid from the stomach that refluxes, damages the lining of the esophagus, inflammation can occur. If the damage is deep enough, an ulcer can actually form. Scar tissue can form a “stricture” which can cause food to get lodged or stuck in the esophagus.
Another complication that can arise from acid reflux is Barrett’s Esophagus. If a person has severe acid reflux, this causes changes to the cells that surround and line the esophagus. These can turn pre-cancerous and even evolve into cancer cells.
There are many other complications that sometimes occur as a result of acid reflux. Asthma and coughs can be intensified or sparked by acid reflux. The same is true of inflammation of the throat, larynx, or lungs. A patient can also experience fluid in his sinuses or middle ears.
Although the complications associated with acid reflux are rare, it is important to keep in mind that acid reflux is a condition that should be treated by your doctor. There are also a variety of effective home remedies for acid reflux. If properly handled, it is a highly treatable condition. If left unattended, you risk the possibility of causing irreparable damage to your body.
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