Gastro-oesophageal Reflux : Treatment and symptoms

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD) is a disorder characterized by lift of the contents of the stomach into the esophagus, a segment of the digestive tract that is not designed to withstand the acidity of the stomach. Burns the walls of the esophagus that follows, associated with regurgitation of food, are some of the most common symptoms of this condition, which can cause many complications in the long term if nothing is done.

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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease ?

Although not known to the general public, gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD) is a common condition that affects a third of the population over the life-course, and close to 8 % each week. It is thus a gastric disease the most common. GERD is characterized by a rise of stomach contents into the esophagus due to a malfunction of the muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter, or cardia), which separate this area of the digestive tract. The gastric acid then attacks the lining of the esophagus, causing esophagitis in the case of complications : erosion of the lining of the wall of the esophagus.

Muscle failure that is intermediate between the stomach and the oesophagus is favoured by two factors : improper diet (irregular meals or too fat) and excessive weight. In addition, the GERD often appears in women following a pregnancy, and among senior citizens who consumed a lot of tobacco in their lifetime.

The symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease

In the majority of cases, the gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD) is manifested by two symptoms : burns from the upper zones of the abdomen and back behind the breastbone and acid indigestion on a regular basis with feedback from the food in the mouth, which occur without the efforts of vomiting. It is also associated with other digestive symptoms such as hiccups.

We distinguish the GERD intermittent which occurs occasionally after a meal or during the night, and the GERD is sustainable, which occurs at any time of the day. This second type of gastro-esophageal reflux can cause multiple complications from pulmonary and ENT : hoarseness of voice, chronic cough, asthma, and even dental erosion (due to acid reflux).

What are the treatments for GERD ?

In the event of an outbreak of a gastro-esophageal reflux, first of all it is advised to modify his lifestyle, particularly his diet : split meals during the day, avoid eating too much fat or too rich, do not make significant efforts after the meal, don’t lie down immediately after meals (wait at least three hours), do not lean forward when walking, and sleep on your back as much as possible, stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, and above all practice a regular physical activity if overweight.

If symptoms persist, drug treatments are available, such as the alginates that prevent the reflux, antacids that neutralize the acidity of the heartburn, anti-H2, which promote healing of the esophagus, and inhibitors of the proton pump to heal the esophagitis. Surgical treatment may be considered in the most serious cases, with the aim of reconstructing a barrier effective between the stomach and the esophagus.

If you suspect to be affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease, see your doctor, who alone can provide a definitive diagnosis. You may be advised to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist for further examinations.

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