When the esophagus becomes inflamed and irritated, as a result of stomach acids and digestive enzymes backing up into it, the condition is known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition affects 25-40 percent of American adults, to varying degrees of severity, at some time in their life. However, you can develop GERD at any age.
Under normal circumstances, the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscular ring at the base of the esophagus) prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. This muscle relaxes when you swallow, permitting food to go through. Then, it tightens to stop backwards flow. However, when you have GERD, this sphincter releases between swallows, which allows stomach contents to move back up causing damage to the esophageal lining.
A definitive cause of GERD is not known but the following are contributing factors that tend to make reflux worse:
There are many symptoms and signs that accompany reflux, including the following:
Treatment goals include reduction of reflux, relief of symptoms, and prevention of esophageal damage. Many times, symptoms can be relieved by various changes in diet, habits and lifestyle, as well as antacid medications. If you have reflux, you should consider seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist.
If you or someone you love suffers with reflux, you need to call today for an appointment with one of our specially trained throat specialists. The sooner you do this, the quicker we can help find a solution to your symptoms.
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