Macomb Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which may be also called Acid Reflux, is becoming 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 found in children and infants also. The quantity of GERD cases being identified and treated is higher than it ever was. Symptoms of GERD might be completely different from one person to the next and there are numerous different variables to the development 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 is when a section of the stomach moves above the diaphragm and permits acid to transfer past the lower esophageal sphincter and up inside the esophagus. Nonetheless, the most frequently found cause of GERD is a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a small spherical section of muscle in between the stomach and esophagus which acts as a valve. A regularly functioning LES allows food and liquid to move down the esophagus and inside 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 common condition seen.
Additional typical risk factors:
- Eating big meals
- Laying down right after a meal
- Snacking around bedtime
- Consuming certain foods which are known to irritate 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 developing a treatment plan, accurate diagnosis need to be attained. Typical tests conducted for the diagnosis of GERD are barium swallow, esophageal manometry, endoscopy and biopsy. Each of these tests provides a look at the esophagus to find out if there are any anomalies or dysfunction.
Once these tests have been performed and a diagnosis has been given, treatment can start. There is a great deal of treatment options, ranging from over-the-counter medications like Tums, Mylanta and Alka-Seltzer to prescribed medicine like Zantac, Prevacid and Priolosec. If the stomach is having issues emptying or the LES is weakened, there are also medications to help. These medications can have side effects such as 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 issues to arise as time goes on.
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 with the upper portion of the stomach. This treatment helps strengthen the LES, helping to prevent additional acid reflux and fixing hiatal hernias.
If left untreated, the acid deterioration of the esophagus can lead to cell mutations which could change into esophageal cancer. The cause of dysfunction of the LES needs to be determined in order to avoid this.
A normally operating esophagus and LES work together 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 control the wave like action is controlled through nerve impulses which have roots in the thoracic vertebrae. A small irritation or compression of these vertebrae can impede 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 can also lead to weakening of the LES, allowing a leakage into the esophagus. A chiropractor can help with the adjustment of the spine to fix this irritation or compression.
Locating the cause of the dysfunction and the reason for GERD is very important to the quality and longevity of the lives of our kids and ourselves. As mentioned before, GERD in children and infants has become more and more widespread and they are not “out-growing” the problem as was once believed they would. While medicines can provide relief for a time from the symptoms, pinpointing the cause of the problem will help protect against a life-long condition.
Macomb Chiropractor Discusses Acid Reflux (GERD)
If you or your child is suffering from acid reflux/GERD, we encourage you to call Total Health Systems of Macomb Township today and schedule a chiropractic evaluation and/or nutritional evaluation and get started on changing the cause of this disease.