Reflux is a generally used term that can refer to a couple of different conditions: vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Reflux most often used in reference to GERD, a very common condition. GERD results from the relaxation of the muscles around the entrance to the stomach, which allows a back flow of food, stomach acid and digestive enzymes up into the esophagus. This is called acid reflux. GERD most commonly occurs in adults.
The term reflux can also refer to vesicoureteral reflux, a less common condition. In vesicoureteral reflux the flow of urine is abnormal. Normally urine flows from the kidney through small tubes called ureters into the bladder. In the bladder the urine is stored until it is eliminated from the body during urination.
In vesicoureteral reflux some urine in the bladder flows back up through the ureters into the kidney. This can be caused by a urinary tract infection, a blockage in the urinary tract, or a malfunctioning valve that is allowing an abnormal flow of urine. Vesicoureteral reflux is most commonly diagnosed in infancy or childhood.
Symptoms and complications of reflux vary depending on the specific type of reflux. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of reflux.
Diagnosing reflux and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.
Diagnostic testing for reflux caused by GERD generally includes an endoscopy procedure. In this procedure, a special lighted instrument is inserted through the mouth and throat into the esophagus and stomach. This instrument, called an endoscope, takes pictures of the esophagus and stomach and/or sends images to a computer monitor.
Another test that might be performed is esophageal manometry. This test measures the pressure and contractions of the muscles of the esophagus. This can determine if the esophageal muscles around the entrance to the stomach are abnormally relaxed, which can allow stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. Other tests may include tests that measure the amount of stomach acid that is produced.
Diagnostic testing for reflux caused by vesicoureteral reflux includes an urinanalysis, which can determine if there is an infection in the urinary tract, a common symptom and cause of vesicoureteral reflux. If a urinary tract infection is present, a urine culture and sensitivity is performed on the urine to determine the type of microorganism causing the infection and the most effective drug to treat it. Imaging tests, such as a kidney and bladder ultrasound may also be performed.
A diagnosis of reflux and its specific cause may be delayed or missed because symptoms of reflux may be mild or intermittent. Symptoms may also mimic symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information about conditions and diseases that can mimic reflux, refer to misdiagnosis of reflux.
Many cases of reflux due to GERD can be prevented with lifestyle changes, such as not smoking and not drinking acidic beverages or alcohol to excess. There are also many other ways to prevent acid reflux and control the severity of reflux. These include losing excessive weight, avoiding large meals and eating several small meals every day. It is also important to avoid eating late at night or up to two hours before bedtime. Clothing should be loose and not increase pressure on or constrict the abdomen. People with reflux may need to sleep in a semi-upright position, which allows gravity to help keep stomach acid from flowing up into the esophagus.
Treatment of reflux due to GERD may also include the use of antacids and other medications. If reflux is caused by a hiatal hernia, treatment will include addressing the hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernia and severe cases of reflux may require hospitalization and surgery.
Treatment of reflux due to vesicoureteral reflux includes antibiotics and possibly surgery in some cases. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of reflux. ...more »
Reflux refers to the stomach acid rising up the "wrong way"
back up the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth.
Pain from reflux is called heartburn.
Chronic reflux that reoccurs or persists
may be caused by GERD.
See also heartburn and indigestion for similar complaints.
Reflux can lead to various complaints itself,
such as metallic taste or acidic taste in the mouth,
and actual damage to the esophagus (see esophagitis,
reflux esophagisit, Barrett's esophagitis and other esophagus diseases). ...more »
Symptoms of reflux vary greatly depending on the type of reflux: GERD or vesicoureteral reflux. Symptoms of reflux can also vary in nature and severity between individuals. Symptoms can be mild to severe.
The most typical symptom of reflux due to vesicoureteral reflux is a urinary tract infection. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include frequency, dysuria, hematuria, and ...more symptoms »
Treatment plans for reflux are individualized depending on the specific type of reflux, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes discomfort, and decreases the risk of developing complications.
Treatment of reflux due to ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of reflux may be delayed or missed because the symptoms of reflux may not be severe enough or last long enough for a person to seek medical care.
Symptoms of reflux due to vesicoureteral reflux can mimic symptoms of uncomplicated urinary tract infection, bladder infection, and cystitis.
Symptoms of reflux due to GERD can also be similar to ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Reflux
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symptoms of Reflux
Treatments for Reflux
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treatments for Reflux
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Causes of Reflux
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Reflux: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Reflux
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Definitions of Reflux:
An abnormal backward flow of body fluids
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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