acid reflux

Chesterfield Township Nutritionist Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which can be commonly referred to as Acid Reflux, is now more and more common in the United States. It used to be that this condition only affected adults, however within the past few years, GERD has been found in kids and infants as well. The total number of GERD cases being identified and treated is more than it ever was. Symptoms of GERD may be different from one individual to the next and there are a variety of variables to the progression of acid reflux.

Possible signs and symptoms of GERD:

  • Burning pain in the stomach, chest, and/or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Sour/bitter acid in the mouth
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • 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 is where 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 typical cause of GERD is a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a little circular section of muscle in between the stomach and esophagus which acts as a valve. A normally functioning LES allows food and liquid to move down the esophagus and into the stomach, while stopping any gastric acid or food from heading back up into the esophagus. When something starts to dysfunction with the LES, GERD is a condition seen.

Other typical risk factors:

  • Eating sizeable meals
  • Laying down right after a meal
  • Overweight/obese
  • Snacking around bedtime
  • Consuming food items which are known to irritate the stomach (ie: citrus, chocolate, tomatos, mint or fatty foods)
  • Consuming carbonated beverages, coffee, tea or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications which include aspirin, ibuprofen and some muscle relaxers and blood pressure medicines

Prior to developing a treatment plan, accurate diagnosis should be attained. Typical 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 performed and a diagnosis has been made, treatment can begin. There is a number of treatment options, which range from 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 can have side effects such as constipation or diarrhea and using the medications for an extended period of time can result in the stomach ceasing all production of gastric acid leading to more issues to arise down the road.

In some severe cases, where the acid reflux cannot be managed by medications and/or diet alterations, surgery might be an option. The surgery creates an artificial valve using the upper portion of the stomach. This procedure helps to strengthen the LES, helping to prevent additional acid reflux and repairing hiatal hernias.

If not treated, the acid erosion of the esophagus can result in cell mutations which may become esophageal cancer. The cause of dysfunction of the LES should be identified in order to avoid this.

A normally operating esophagus and LES work together to move 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 control the wave like action is controlled by nerve impulses that have roots in the thoracic vertebrae. A small irritation or compression of these vertebrae can impede the signal transmission in the nerves and cause 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 mend this irritation or compression.

Finding 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 ever more widespread and they are not “out-growing” the problem as was previously believed they would. While medications can offer some relief from the symptoms, pinpointing the cause of the problem will help protect against 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.

Chesterfield Township Nutritionist Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)

If you or your child is experiencing acid reflux/GERD, we encourage you to call Total Health Systems of Chesterfield Township today and schedule a chiropractic evaluation and/or nutritional assessment and get started on changing the cause of this disease.

Chesterfield Township Nutritionist Discusses Acid Reflux