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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a very common complaint in Americans, particularly amongst those people who eat before bed time. Acid indigestion is due to decreased tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus, protecting it from stomach acid. If the LES is compromised and acid refluxes into the esophagus, this produces heartburn perceived as a burning sensation behind the breastbone. Other symptoms also involve wheezing, coughing, burping, chest pain, swallowing problems, halitosis (smelly breath), and voice hoarseness, which are worse after meals or increasing abdominal pressure. Conditions that can influence reflux disease include hiatus hernia and anxiety, and lifestyle factors can also exacerbate indigestion such as caffeine, spicy food, fatty food, alcohol and smoking. Diagnosis is via a flexible tube passed down the throat to visualize the esophagus, called endoscopy, and take tissue samples. Complications of GERD are esophageal ulcers that bleed, esophageal scarring, a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal cancer. Ways to prevent GERD is to avoid eating 3 hours before lying down, raising the head of the bed, eating small meals, and losing weight. Treatment includes anti-acids and acid inhibitor medications prescribed by a doctor.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Packet Online
About: Reflux in detail
Date: 15 July 2005
Source: Packet Online
Author: Glenn L. Osias
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