Hiatal Hernia

October 27, 2011

Persistent Heartburn

Heartburn is a common condition in which a burning sensation is felt rising from the stomach towards the throat. This burning feeling is caused by stomach acid washing back up from the stomach into the esophagus.

Normally, a valve at the end of the esophagus seals off the contents of our stomachs, but sometimes this process does not work properly, typically just following a meal. Heartburn symptoms may be mild and infrequent or, in more serious cases, last for weeks or months.

Persistent heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable and even require a doctor’s care if it becomes a chronic condition. It can occur after eating, when lying down, or when you bend forward. If you have heartburn, you will often have a bitter or sour taste in your mouth from the stomach acid flowing back up into your esophagus. Other symptoms include hoarseness, cough, nausea, trouble swallowing, and chest pain. However, unlike heart attack symptoms, this type of pain is not localized to one side of the chest.

When heartburn becomes chronic in nature it can develop into a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. The condition can lead to damage to the esophagus. The injuries may include: reflux esopagitis, esophageal strictures, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma- a rare form of cancer.

An esophageal pH monitoring test is often performed to check for GERD. It is considered to be the most objective test for diagnosing the disease. It also allows for monitoring of GERD patients to show how they are responding to medical intervention.

There are a number of factors that can cause GERD. Obesity is often associated with more severe cases of GERD. The presence of a hiatal hernia also increases the risks of acquiring GERD, due to its effects on motility of the stomach. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a disorder with a GERD correlation. This syndrome increases gastric acidity through gastrin production. Another cause of GERD is visceroptosis or Glenard syndrome, where the stomach sinks into the abdominal cavity, disrupting the acid secretion and motility of the stomach.

The presence of cardiac disease is one condition that must first be eliminated as a cause of persistent heartburn. If a person has unexplained chest pain on one side of the chest, they need to see a doctor to be sure of what they are dealing with. The two conditions can have a similar set of symptoms since the esophagus and heart share the same nerve supply.

Chest pain caused by heartburn is typically described as a “burning” sensation, happens after eating, and grows worse when the person bends over or lies down. It is not uncommon in pregnant women, and can occur after consuming large amounts of food, or certain spicy foods, fatty foods, or acidic foods. It can sometimes be attributed to esophageal spasms.

Fortunately, treatments are available for persistent heartburn and the intervention of a doctor is rarely required. If you suffer from persistent heartburn, for more information and resources please visit Reflux Remedy at refluxremedy.com today.

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September 22, 2011

What Is Acid Indigestion?

Acid indigestion, also known as heartburn, is a burning sensation in the chest after eating. It is caused by stomach acid coming back up, or refluxing, and reaching the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Acid indigestion is a fairly common condition, affecting nearly one-third of the population occasionally, while up to 10% of adults suffer from acid indigestion daily. It is very common in pregnancy as well, with 1 in 4 pregnant women reporting daily bouts of heartburn for at least some of their pregnancy.

Symptoms of Acid Indigestion
Acid indigestion is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack because the symptoms can be somewhat similar. If you have any suspicion that you may be having a heart attack and not heartburn, it is critical that you seek medical attention immediately.

The main symptom of heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the upper abdomen and chest which can sometimes radiate into the back, jaw and throat. The burning can get much worse when bending over, lying down or after a particularly heavy meal. Pain usually starts within 30-60 minutes of eating and tends to recede gradually as food is being digested.

Causes of Acid Indigestion
Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) remains open or relaxes after eating, which allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. Certain foods can exacerbate or cause the loosening of the LES, including peppermint, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, alcohol and foods high in fat. Foods that are spicy or acidic can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause a worsening of your symptoms.

Putting pressure on the abdomen tends to increase the chance of acid indigestion, so it is important to avoid wearing tight clothing and be aware that coughing, bending, straining, having a hiatal hernia, being obese and being pregnant can increase symptoms of heartburn.

Certain medications can also cause trouble with acid indigestion, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and osteoporosis medication.

Treatment of Acid Indigestion
Many times, heartburn can be successfully treated by avoiding foods and activities that cause it and by taking over the counter medications such as antacids. Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime and try to stay upright for up to an hour after eating to help keep stomach acid where it belongs.

If home treatments are not offering relief, it may be time to talk to your doctor about prescription remedies to alleviate the pain and burning of heartburn. Prescription histamine-2 blockers, such as Zantac, Tagamet, Pepcid and Axid, all work to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. Reglan is a drug that helps empty food and acid more quickly and also helps to tighten the LES. The third and last type of drugs to be used are the proton pump inhibitors, which prevent the secretion of acid altogether. Common brands include Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium.

When Is Acid Indigestion Serious?
If you experience acid indigestion two or more times a week, you may be experiencing a more serious condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD can be severe and can cause scarring of the esophagus. Please see your doctor if you are having repeated episodes of acid indigestion. Treatment to stop the erosion of the esophagus is important to prevent long term problems associated with GERD. Find more information on the causes and cures associated with acid reflux be sure to visit Reflux Remedy at refluxremedy.com today!

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September 16, 2011

Hiatal Hernia and GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux is the process whereby a small amount of the stomach contents flows back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux is commonly known as heartburn and is not unusual in humans. It is often brought on by the drinking of alcohol or the eating of certain foods that are fatty or spicy. Changes in posture such as lying down can also increase the occurrence.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), on the other hand, occurs when a person experiences gastroesophageal reflux on a frequent basis. It is typically the direct result of a faulty sphincter in the lower portion of the esophagus, but there are many theories as to exactly what causes the incompetent sphincter. Although a faulty sphincter is thought to be responsible for the majority of GERD cases, other causes may include things such as systemic diseases like lupus, ingestion of corrosive materials, or extended intubation. The malfunction of this sphincter with its subsequent regurgitation results in a burning sensation in the region behind the sternum. Over time, this persistent reflux directly results in the inflammation of the esophageal lining which can eventually reach down to the muscular level. Once the inflammation penetrates into the muscular level, it causes muscle damage which further increases the amount and frequency of reflux that a person will experience. There is no one type of person who becomes afflicted with GERD. It is a very non-selective disease that occurs in the old and the young, the thin and the overweight, in both genders, and in all ethnicities. Because the disease is non-selective in who it affects, the diagnosis is often difficult and tends to rely on patient history, x-ray studies, and endoscopy of the esophagus. Diagnosis of GERD can often be tricky as it can mimic other disease processes such hiatal hernia.

Hiatal hernia can mimic GERD, but it is a completely different condition. The cause is not known, but it can occur as a result of trauma or it can be congenital. Basically, a hiatal hernia is the protrusion of a portion of the stomach through the diaphragm opening. It can be an ongoing occurrence or an infrequent one. When it is of the ongoing variety, it is known as a rolling para-esophageal hernia. This variety has a low incidence and tends to account for approximately ten percent of all cases of hiatal hernia. The more common form of hiatal hernia is the sporadic type which is known as a sliding hernia. This type accounts for approximately ninety percent of all hiatal hernias and tends to happen in response to changes in position. Essentially what happens is that the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm’s opening when a recumbent (lying down) position occurs. When a more upright position is achieved, the stomach slides back to its normal position. Many people who have both types of this hernia are asymptomatic, but others exhibit signs of gastroesophageal reflux especially when lying down. When reflux occurs, it is considered to be of concern and treatment is usually recommended.

For more information on Hiatal hernia and GERD be sure to contact Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com today!

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September 9, 2011

Hiatal Hernia Foods to Avoid

A hiatal hernia is an abnormality in which part of your stomach pushes up, protruding through the diaphragm. The esophageal hiatus, a hole in the diaphragm that allows the esophagus to pass through to connect with the stomach, is typically larger in individuals with hiatal hernias allowing the stomach to pass through, or herniate through the hiatus into the chest.

While many hiatal hernias are small and go unnoticed, some become rather large and create digestive problems. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, can develop because of the open position of the sphincter of the stomach allowing acid to travel up into the esophagus. This flow of acid can cause heartburn, esophageal spasms, inflammation, and ulcers in the esophagus.

The best way to self treat a hiatal hernia is to pay close attention to the foods that you are putting into your body. A healthy diet that is hiatal hernia-friendly can help ease many symptoms that are incurred by the hernia. Staying away from certain foods can create less irritation and help support comfortable digestion. Foods that are high in fat and sugar, acidic foods, and certain beverages should be avoided whenever possible.

When preparing or eating meat, one should choose a less fatty meat like a lean cut of beef, skinless chicken breast, or fish. Eating high fat meats can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Being careful of how much spice, marinade, and sauce is being used during the preparation is an important factor, as these, too, can irritate the hernia.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a nutritious eating regimen, but certain fruits can irritate a hiatal hernia. Citrus fruits such as oranges and limes should be avoided to prevent irritation. Choose fruits like pears, apples, bananas, and peaches. It is also wise to avoid tomatoes, as they contain a high level of acid. Also keep in mind that the same rules apply to their juices. While apple juice is fine to drink, grapefruit juice will cause irritation to the esophagus.

Healthy grains should be consumed on a daily basis. Oatmeal, wheat bread, brown rice, low sugar whole grain cereal, couscous, and barley are just to name a few healthy grain options. Grains are an important part of one’s diet and contain numerous vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy. However, one should try to bypass enriched white grains such as white bread and white rice, as they lack nutrients and break down too quickly.

One’s tolerance to lactose will decide what foods should be avoided in the dairy isle. However, individuals that tolerate lactose well should choose low-fat or fat-free cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, and milks over their full fat versions. Desserts like ice cream, and sugary rice pudding may cause irritation due to the high amounts of sugar in these foods. Consuming a no sugar added version is the best route to take.

While water should be the beverage of choice, some do not enjoy drinking it. When deciding on a beverage, steer clear of coffee, soda, and alcohol, as they tend to irritate a hiatal hernia. Also, teas that contain rosemary are known to reduce heartburn and indigestion.

While having a hiatal hernia can be rather painful and frustrating, eating a healthy diet can help lessen the severity of its symptoms. For more information on foods to avoid visit Reflux Remedy at refluxremedy.com today!

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