Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms.

Causes:

GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux - the backup of stomach acid or bile into the esophagus. When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter - a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus - relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, if this valve relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing frequent heartburn and disrupting your daily life. This constant backwash of acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become inflamed (esophagitis). Over time, the inflammation can erode the esophagus, causing complications such as bleeding or breathing problems.

Signs & Symptoms:

GERD signs and symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to the throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness or sore throat
  • egurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat

Risk Factors:

Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Dry mouth
  • Diabetes
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Smoking
  • Asthma
  • Delayed stomach emptying
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Complications:

Over time, chronic inflammation in your esophagus can lead to complications, including:

  • Narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture).Damage to cells in the lower esophagus from acid exposure leads to formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue narrows the food pathway, causing difficulty swallowing.
  • An open sore in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer). Stomach acid can severely erode tissues in the esophagus, causing an open sore to form. The esophageal ulcer may bleed, cause pain and make swallowing difficult.
  • Precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus). In Barrett's esophagus, the color and composition of the tissue lining the lower esophagus change. These changes are associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. The risk of cancer is low, but your doctor will likely recommend regular endoscopy exams to look for early warning signs of esophageal cancer.

Homeopathy can be of great help for those who do not show much improvement even after lifestyle modifications. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat acid reflux symptoms but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility.

 
 

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