Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition where the contents of the stomach backflow into the esophagus causing heartburn, bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, chest pain, breathing issues, vomiting, and wearing away of the teeth. Chronic acid reflux can cause complications such as Barrett’s esophagus, esophagitis, and esophageal strictures.
Acid reflux usually occur when there is poor closure of the lower esophageal sphincter, thus allowing the backflow of the acid. The diagnosis of acid reflux may involve esophageal pH monitoring, gastroscopy, esophageal manometry, and an upper gastrointestinal study. It can be treated through medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes such as not lying down after eating, avoiding certain foods, losing weight, and stopping smoking.
Some of the medications that can be used are proton pump inhibitors, antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and prokinetics. Patients who do not improve can try surgery. About 10 to 20 percent of individuals in the Western world are affected by acid reflux.
Cause #1: Hiatal Hernia
A hiatal hernia refers to the herniation of the abdominal organs through the diaphragm into the thoracic cavity. This can lead to acid reflux. Other possible symptoms include chest pain and difficulty swallowing.
The commonest risk factors of hiatal hernia include older age, obesity, scoliosis, major trauma, and certain types of surgery. Symptoms can be managed using lifestyle changes, weight loss, medications, and surgery. A hiatal hernia increases the possibility of acid reflux due to motility and mechanical factors.