Total Health Systems Washington Township Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which is commonly referred to as Acid Reflux, is becoming more and more common in the United States. It used to be that this condition only affected adults, but during the last few decades, GERD has been seen in kids and infants as well. The total number of GERD cases being identified and treated is higher than it ever has been. Symptoms of GERD can be completely different from one person to the next and there are a lot of variables to the progression of acid reflux.
Possible symptoms 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 has been a cause for several diagnosed cases of GERD, this means a part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm and permits acid to go past the lower esophageal sphincter and up in the esophagus. Having said that, the most commonly seen cause of GERD is a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a small round area of muscle tissue in between the stomach and esophagus which behaves as a valve. A normally functioning LES will allow food and liquid to move down the esophagus and inside the stomach, while blocking any gastric acid or food from moving back up into the esophagus. When something starts to dysfunction with the LES, GERD is a condition seen.
Additional typical risk factors:
- Eating sizeable meals
- Laying down right after a meal
- Snacking around bedtime
- Consuming certain foods that are known to upset the stomach (ie: citrus, chocolate, tomatoes, mint or fatty foods)
- Consuming carbonated beverages, coffee, tea or alcohol
- Certain medications including aspirin, ibuprofen as well as some muscle relaxers and blood pressure medications
Prior to developing a treatment method, proper diagnosis must be attained. The most common tests conducted for the diagnosis of GERD are barium swallow, esophageal manometry, endoscopy and biopsy. Each of these assessments provides a look at the esophagus to find out if there are any anomalies or dysfunction.
Once these tests have been conducted and a diagnosis has been made, treatment can commence. There is a wide range of treatment options, including over-the-counter medications like Tums, Mylanta and Alka-Seltzer to prescription medications like Zantac, Prevacid and Priolosec. If the stomach is having issues emptying or the LES is weakened, there are also medications to help. These medicines may have side effects including constipation or diarrhea and using the medications for a long period of time can lead to the stomach ceasing all production of gastric acid leading to more problems to arise as time goes on.
In some severe cases, in which the acid reflux cannot be managed by medications and/or diet alterations, surgery may be an option. The surgery creates an artificial valve using the upper portion of the stomach. This procedure helps strengthen the LES, helping to prevent further acid reflux and repairing hiatal hernias.
If not treated, the acid break down of the esophagus can result in cell mutations which may develop into esophageal cancer. The cause of dysfunction of the LES should be determined in order to prevent 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 through the esophagus and into the stomach. The peristalsis triggers the LES and tells it to open. The muscles that command the wave like action is controlled through nerve impulses which have roots in the thoracic vertebrae. A tiny irritation or compression of these vertebrae can hinder the signal transmission in the nerves and cause 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 may also cause 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 cause of GERD is essential to the quality and longevity of the lives of our children and ourselves. As mentioned above, GERD in children and infants has become more and more typical and they are not “out-growing” the condition as was previously believed they would. While medications can offer some relief from the symptoms, discovering the cause of the problem can help to prevent a life-long condition.
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If you are looking for a healthcare facility that is interested in treating “you”, and not a disease or condition, Total Health Systems of Macomb County is the perfect fit for all your healthcare needs.
If you or your child suffers from acid reflux/GERD, we encourage you to get in touch with Total Health Systems of Washington Township today and schedule a chiropractic evaluation and/or nutritional evaluation and get started on changing the cause of this disease.