CHENNAI: When we eat, food passes down the oesophagus into the stomach. Normally cells in the lining of the stomach make acid and other chemicals which help to digest food. Food and acid in stomach don’t travel in reverse direction into the oesophagus due to many protective mechanisms. When acid from the stomach enters up into the oesophagus, the condition is known as acid reflux. You may be surprised to know that quality of life for the people with acid reflux problem is no better than those for heart attack, cancer and diabetes. Primarily caused by unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits, and hiatal hernia (internal stomach hernia), if untreated, it may lead to other health complications such as esophagitis, narrowing of oesophagus, throat and voice problems, tooth decay, esophageal ulcers, Barrett’s oesophagus and esophageal cancer.
Other than medical or surgical management, to manage acid reflux effectively, one needs to consider making certain lifestyle changes such as losing excess weight, eating smaller meals, avoiding tight-fitting clothes, avoiding heartburn triggers, such as alcohol, fatty foods, chocolate and mint, and avoiding lying down soon after a meal, and smoking.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
- Heartburn, especially more in night and on lying down
- Painful swallowing
- Frequent hiccups and burping
- Expulsion of undigested food materials from stomach to esophagus
- Bloating stomach and worsening of asthma
If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, then it is better to consult the gastroenterologist for acid reflux disease, also known as gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
(Dr R Ravi is a senior consultant medical gastroenterologist at Global Health City, Perumbakkam)