is Acid Reflux?
This is a medical condition in which gastric juices containing acid flow back (reflux) from the stomach into the esophagus. According to recent researches, about 20 percent of all people in the developed world suffer at least once a week from acid reflux related symptoms, while additional 20% percent experience the uncomfortable sometimes painful symptoms at least once a month. Up to 40 percent of the above endure symptoms on a daily basis. With that said, the vast majority of these patients don't even know what acid reflux really is.
Acid reflux, also known as
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when
the lower esophageal sphincter (a term which stands for
a ring of muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus
and the stomach) does not close properly thus
allowing gastric juices splash up, or reflux, into the
esophagus. When these juices touch the lining of the
esophagus, it leads to the burning sensation in the
chest and/or throat, also known as
the Local Immediate Cause of Acid
While it's apparently inconsistent, GERD can also be a symptom of insufficient stomach acid. For digestion to be effective, it is necessary that acid level would be sufficient; otherwise stomach is forced to work much harder or order to digest food. Eventually that extra effort ran lead to GERD occurrence.
In addition to the immediate causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease, there are also genetic tendencies (which we cannot control) and several other internal factors and co-factors, that create the environment leading to GERD. Without tackling the internal factors that create acid reflux in the first place, there can be no long-term solution.
What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?Occasional heartburn is common among healthy individuals as well, and does not necessarily mean you have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux diagnosis is usually based on a persistent (at least twice a week) heartburn manifestation. Note that GERD can occur without any heartburn symptoms. Some patients experience different symptoms, namely pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. Other patients feel like they have food stuck in the throat; similar to choking; or as if their throat is too tight. The last group of patients also experience persistent dry cough.
What are the Risks of Acid Reflux?In addition to its unpleasant, sometimes painful symptoms, neglected GERD can lead to serious complications. First of all, scars from tissue damage can narrow the esophagus and harden swallowing. Secondly, long-term esophagus inflammation caused by stomach acid can result in bleeding or ulcers. Finally, some patients can develop Barrett's esophagus, a condition that manifests in an abnormal shape and color of cells in the esophageal lining. Over time, Barrett's esophagus can lead to cancer, especially in adults over 60 years old.
How to Treat Acid RefluxThe treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease can be divided into three categories: surgical intervention; prescribed medications or over-the-counters; and holistic therapy, based on dietary and lifestyle changes, detoxification, and the intake of specific herbal supplements. In the vast majority of cases, GERD can be treated and prevented using all natural means, without the risk and side effects of surgical intervention or prescription medication. Moreover, a comparative review of recent researches supports the holistic approach to GERD by stating that it is a medical condition triggered mostly by dietary, lifestyle and behavioral factors.
So what is acid reflux? From a conventional medicine, similar to other chronic conditions of its kind, gastroesophageal reflux disease can be treated by the constant intake of drugs, antacids and over the counter aimed at achieving temporary relief.
From the holistic point of view, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a warning sign of a major internal imbalance that needs to be properly addressed. Therefore, alternative treatments (e.g. homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, dietary, detoxification and lifestyle changes), that fix the internal cause of acid reflux, have considerable advantage over most conventional treatments that merely touch the surface of this condition.