Treatment of Acid Reflux and Risks From Long Term GERD

Acid reflux is also known as heartburn, acid indigestion, or pyrosis that happens when some of the acidic stomach contents go back up into the esophagus.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Acid reflux is also known as heartburn, acid indigestion, or pyrosis that  happens when some of the acidic stomach contents go back up into the esophagus.

Treatment of Acid Reflux Through Diet and Lifestyle Changes:

Changes to lifestyle and diet can prevent or improve symptoms of acid reflux.

  • Avoid food, drinks, and medicines that causes symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
  • Eat meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This will lessen reflux by allowing the acid in the stomach to decrease and the stomach to empty partially.
  • Do not lie down for 2-3 hours after a meal.
  • Quit smoking as it weakens the stomach lining.
  • Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 to 6 inches. This will allow gravity to minimize reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus.
  • Avoid use of  pillows to prop yourself up since that only increases pressure on the stomach.
  • Lose weight if overweight or obese
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Avoid tight belts or doing sit-up exercises as this will increase pressure on your abdomen
  • Reduce intake of carbonated drinks, any kind of acidic juice and chocolate.
  • Add more herbal foods such as ginger, aloe,Papaya, licorice, turmeric, chewable licorice.
  • Chewing gum between meals will help triggers your saliva glands to produce more saliva that has a pH of approximately 7.4.


Treatment of Acid Reflux With Medication:

The symptoms of acid reflux disease can be controlled by lifestyle changes combined with over the counter medications.

  • H2 blockers  such as cimetidine, ranitidine, and famotidine decrease acid production.
  • Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, rabeprazole, and esomeprazole also reduces the amount of acid production in your stomach.
  • Foaming agents such as Gaviscon coat your stomach to prevent reflux. As it consists of alginic acid that do not damage stomach acid, any reflux is then relatively harmless.
  • Prokinetics such as Reglan, Urecholine can help strengthen the LES, empty your stomach faster, and reduce acid reflux.

These medications are generally safe and effective but can cause problems absorbing nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition. Nonprescription antacids provide temporary or partial relief for some people.
Antacids can help neutralize acid in the esophagus and stomach and stop heartburn. 
Antacids contain chemical compounds such as sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide and aluminum.

Long-term use of antacids can have side effects including diarrhea and altered calcium metabolism in which there will be change in the way the body breaks down and uses calcium.
Antacid also buildup of magnesium in the body which will create problem for people with kidney disease . A doctor should be consulted if antacids are needed for more than 2 weeks.

Risks From Long Term GERD:

If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Left untreated, acid reflux can lead to increased risk of cancer. Stomach acid can damage the esophagus if not controlled for a longer period of time leading to

Strictures:

In this case the damage caused by stomach acid leads to scar development and hence difficulties swallowing, with food getting stuck when it moves down the esophagus.


Esophagitis :

In this case the lining of the esophagus is inflamed causing irritation, bleeding, and ulcers.


Barrett's Esophagus :

A serious complication where the cells and tissues lining the esophagus changes  to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine.
Both esophagitis and Barrett's esophagus are associated with a higher risk of cancer. 
A fundoplication surgery can be done in very rare case when acid reflux disease  is severe and unresponsive to medical treatment. 

 


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