September 28, 2011

Effects Of Acid Reflux

One in three people with acid reflux develop esophagitis as reported by AstraZeneca, the makers of Nexium. Esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus, illustrates one of the many effects of acid reflux, a digestive disease in which stomach acid backs into the esophagus. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux has a haunting nature as it leaves behind a wide-range of serious medical effects that develop in the long-run. They include bronchospasm (spasm of the bronchial muscles due to acid), stricture (narrowing of the esophagus after inflammation leads to scarring), chronic cough, hoarseness, and dental damage. Two major effects of acid reflux, erosive esophagitis and esophageal cancer, are explored.

Erosive Esophagitis

Erosive esophagitis occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus causing it to swell and erode. Its symptoms include the following:

  • Heartburn
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness

Doctors detect erosive esophagitis with the following methods:

  • Endoscopy: occurs when a patient swallows a thin tube that contains a camera at the end, which flows into the esophagus and the stomach.
  • Upper GI Series (Barium Swallow X-Ray): occurs when a patient drinks 16-20 ounces of chalky liquid containing barium. Barium is detected by a fluoroscopy x-ray that displays the manner in which it flows through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. This x-ray lasts between three to six hours.
  • Needle Biopsy: occurs when a needle is used to remove tissue from the esophagus with the aide of a CT scan or ultrasound x-ray.

Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer occurs when a malignant tumor develops in the esophagus. It is most common in men over 50 years of age in the U.S. The two types of esophageal cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, a result of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, and adenocinomarca, cancer of the epithelium tissues that line the glands. Adenocarcinoma is caused by a prior aftereffect of long-term acid reflux called Barrett’s esophagus: development of abnormal changes (metaplasia) in the cells of the lower esophagus that is not curable with anti-reflux surgery. Adenocarcinoma results in the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting of blood (hematemesis)
  • Chest pain (not caused by eating)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dyphagia)
  • Regurgitation

Doctors detect esophageal cancer by the following methods:

  • Upper GI Series (Barium Swallow X-Ray)
  • Endoscopy
  • Needle Biopsy: reveals whether intestinal cells are on esophageal tissue.
  • PET scan: reveals stage of cancer and whether surgery is possible.
  • Chest MRI: determines stage of cancer.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy: occurs when a 5-20 mm flexible endoscope (small camera) is inserted into a patient’s esophagus to examine the lining. It is performed after administration of a sedating analgesic or painkiller and an anesthetic. The endoscope passes through the esophagus to the stomach and small intestine.

An important concept to take away is that the effects of acid reflux worsen when left untreated. The medication Nexium is commonly taken to treat erosive esophagitis. Another option is having Fundoplication surgery that reduces acid reflux by strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter.

For more information on the effects of acid reflux be sure to contact Reflux Remedy at today!

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