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The manynames of one problem

Conditionthat we will be discussing here is known by several names. It isknown as the acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux, or thelaryngopharyngeal reflux. However, it all comes down to the same, asall this names indicate the condition in which the acidic stomachcontent travels upwards (or refluxes) into the upper parts of thedigestive tract and causes various problems.

The anatomyof the problem

A channelknown as the esophagus leads from our mouth to the stomach. At first,both air destined for the lungs and food and water destined for thestomach travel along the same route, down the throat and to pharynx,where the channels split into the windpipe and into the esophagus.Here is where the first sphincter muscle is. A sphincter muscle is acircular muscle that surrounds certain channels or passages in ourbody and permits or blocks passage of matter. In example, sphinctermuscles control the flow of urine, intake of food, or retention ofaccumulated feces. Immediately next to the pharynx is the larynx,where the vocal cords are. When we are not swallowing anything(meaning that we are just breathing), the upper sphincter muscle ofthe esophagus is closed, and air is diverted into the lungs, whilenothing goes to the stomach. When we swallow, the sphincter musclerelaxes and swallowed content enters the esophagus and travels to thestomach.

Anothersphincter muscle lies at the end of the esophagus and seals it offfrom the stomach. Its role is to prevent the stomach content, stomachacid and semi-digested food, to flow back in the esophagus.

If, for somereason, this sphincter muscle fails to seal the stomach off, theacidic content can enter the esophagus. This is the gastroesophagealreflux. If the first sphincter muscle also fails to operate properly,the acidic content can reach all the way up to the throat. This isthe laryngopharyngeal reflux. Stomach acid can then irritate both theesophagus, the throat, and the larynx.


Symptoms ofacid reflux are caused by irritation of the tissue by the stomachacid. These include irritation of the throat, pain and burningsensation in the esophagus (heartburn), constant coughing in order toclear the throat or chronic cough, problems with vocal chords andsimilar.


Acid refluxis best treated by avoiding what triggers it. This means that youshould avoid late meals, spicy or greasy food, and that you should,if you are, like most people, troubled by heartburn while in bed,sleep in a slightly upright position, to prevent gravitational flowof stomach content towards the throat.

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