Utica Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which is commonly called Acid Reflux, has grown more and more common in the United States. It used to be that the problem only affected adults, however within the past few decades, GERD has been found in children and infants also. The number of GERD cases being diagnosed and treated is more than it ever has been. Symptoms of GERD might be totally different from one person to the next and there are a number of different variables to the progression 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 many diagnosed cases of GERD, this means a section of the stomach moves higher than the diaphragm and permits acid to move through the lower esophageal sphincter and up inside the esophagus. However, the most frequently found cause of GERD is a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a little spherical section of muscle in between the stomach and esophagus which acts as a valve. A normally functioning LES will allow food and liquid to move down the esophagus and into the stomach, while preventing any stomach acid or food from heading back up into the esophagus. When something begins to dysfunction with the LES, GERD is a condition found.
Other typical risk factors:
- Eating sizeable meals
- Laying down after a meal
- Snacking around bedtime
- Consuming food items which are known to aggravate the stomach (ie: citrus, chocolate, tomatos, mint or fatty foods)
- Consuming carbonated beverages, coffee, tea or alcohol
- Certain medications including aspirin, ibuprofen and some muscle relaxers and blood pressure medicines
Prior to enacting a treatment plan, proper diagnosis should be attained. The most common tests performed for the diagnosis of GERD are barium swallow, esophageal manometry, endoscopy and biopsy. All of these tests provides a look at the esophagus to determine if there are any anomalies or dysfunction.
When these assessments have been performed and a diagnosis has been made, treatment can commence. There is a wide range of treatment plans, which range from over-the-counter medicines 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 to help. These medications might have side effects which include constipation or diarrhea and using the medications for an extended period of time may result in the stomach ceasing all manufacture of stomach acid leading to more complications to arise in the future.
In some severe cases, where the acid reflux cannot be controlled by medicines and/or diet alterations, surgery may be a possibility. The surgery creates an artificial valve with the upper portion of the stomach. This treatment helps to strengthen the LES, helping to prevent additional acid reflux and repairing hiatal hernias.
If left untreated, the acid erosion of the esophagus can result in cell mutations which could change into esophageal cancer. The cause of dysfunction of the LES should be identified in order to avoid this.
A normally operating esophagus and LES interact to move the food from the point of swallow to the stomach. Peristalsis, which is a wave like motion 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 control the wave like motion is controlled through nerve impulses that have roots in the thoracic vertebrae. A small irritation or compression of these vertebrae can hinder the signal transmission in the nerves and result in a “false signal” to be sent to the LES, making it open when it should not be. This irritation or compression of the vertebrae and nerves could also lead to weakening of the LES, enabling a leakage into the esophagus. A chiropractor can help with the adjustment of the spine to correct this irritation or compression.
Locating the cause of the dysfunction and the reason for GERD is essential to the quality and longevity of the lives of our children and ourselves. As mentioned above, GERD in children and infants is becoming increasingly widespread and they are not “out-growing” the condition as was previously believed they would. While medicines can offer some relief from the symptoms, determining the reason for the problem can help to protect against a life-long condition.
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Utica Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
If you or your child is suffering from acid reflux/GERD, we encourage you to get in touch with Total Health Systems of Utica today and schedule a chiropractic evaluation and/or nutritional assessment and get started on correcting the cause of this disease.