Rochester Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which can be commonly called Acid Reflux, has grown increasingly more common in the United States. It used to be that the problem only affected adults, but during the last few years, GERD has been seen in children and infants also. The quantity of GERD cases being diagnosed and treated is more than it ever has been. Symptoms of GERD may be completely different from one person to the next and there are a lot of variables to the development of acid reflux.
Possible indicators of GERD:
- Burning pain in the stomach, chest, and/or throat
- Dry cough
- Chronic sore throat
- Sour/bitter acid in the mouth
- Feeling of food or a lump stuck in back of the throat
- Chest and upper back pain
- Bloody/black stools or bloody vomiting
A hiatal hernia can be a cause for some diagnosed cases of GERD, this is when a section of the stomach moves above the diaphragm and permits acid to move past the lower esophageal sphincter and up in the esophagus. However, the most typical cause of GERD is a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a small circular area of muscle in the middle of the stomach and esophagus which behaves as a valve. A normally working LES will allow food and liquid to move down the esophagus and inside the stomach, while blocking any gastric acid or food from heading back up into the esophagus. When something starts to dysfunction with the LES, GERD is a common condition seen.
Some other typical risk factors:
- Eating big meals
- Laying down after a meal
- Snacking around bedtime
- Consuming certain foods that are known to upset the stomach (ie: citrus, chocolate, tomatos, mint or fatty foods)
- Consuming carbonated beverages, coffee, tea or alcohol
- Certain medications which include aspirin, ibuprofen and some muscle relaxers and blood pressure medications
Prior to enacting a treatment method, accurate diagnosis should be attained. The most frequent assessments conducted for the diagnosis of GERD are barium swallow, esophageal manometry, endoscopy and biopsy. All of these assessments provides a look at the esophagus to determine if there are any anomalies or dysfunction.
When these tests have been conducted and a diagnosis has been given, treatment can begin. There is a number of treatment plans, ranging from over-the-counter medications like Tums, Mylanta and Alka-Seltzer to prescribed medicine like Zantac, Prevacid and Priolosec. In the event the stomach has issues emptying or the LES is weakened, there are also medications that can help. These medicines may have side effects including constipation or diarrhea and using the medications for an extended period of time may result in the stomach ceasing all manufacture of gastric acid leading to more problems to arise in the future.
In some severe cases, where the acid reflux cannot be managed by medicines and/or diet modifications, surgery might be a possibility. The surgery creates an artificial valve using the upper portion of the stomach. This treatment helps to strengthen the LES, helping to prevent further acid reflux and fixing hiatal hernias.
If not treated, the acid erosion of the esophagus may lead to cell mutations which could turn into esophageal cancer. The cause of dysfunction of the LES needs to be identified in order to avoid this.
A normally operating esophagus and LES interact to advance the food from the point of swallow to the stomach. Peristalsis, which is a wave like movement of the muscle tissue in the esophagus, moves the food down the esophagus and into the stomach. The peristalsis triggers the LES and tells it to open. The muscles that command the wave like motion is controlled by nerve impulses which have roots in the thoracic vertebrae. A small irritation or compression of these vertebrae can obstruct the signal transmission in the nerves and result in a “false signal” to be sent to the LES, making it open when it shouldn’t be. This irritation or compression of the vertebrae and nerves could also cause weakening of the LES, allowing a leakage into the esophagus. A chiropractor can help with the adjustment of the spine to mend this irritation or compression.
Finding the cause of the dysfunction and the cause of GERD is very important to the quality and longevity of the lives of our children and ourselves. As mentioned above, GERD in kids and infants is becoming ever more typical and they are not “out-growing” the condition as was previously believed they would. While medicines can offer relief for a time from the symptoms, determining the reason for the problem can help to prevent a life-long condition.
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Rochester Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
If you or your child is experiencing acid reflux/GERD, we encourage you to get in touch with Total Health Systems of Rochester today and schedule a chiropractic assessment and/or nutritional evaluation and get started on changing the cause of this disease.