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Gastric reflux - a minor problem with a bad side

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, commonly known as acid reflux or acid reflux, is a common condition that affects people of both sexes and all ages. It is not a severe condition by itself, and is caused by improper function of the sphincter muscles at the end of the esophagus. These muscles are ring - like, circular muscles located at various ducts in our organism whose function is to act as a valve and permit or block passage of something through the said duct. In this case, it is meant to seal off stomach content, swallowed and semi - digested food mixed with stomach juices, so that it cannot return to the esophagus. To clarify further, let's say that sphincter muscles control the emptying of the bladder and the colon as well.

If for some reason the sphincter does not seal well, the stomach content, which contains a very powerful acid known as stomach acid, can flow back into the esophagus. Lining of the stomach is acid-proof, but lining of the esophagus is not, and it can be burnt and damaged by the acid found in the refluxed content.

Causes of gastric reflux

For most people, gastric reflux is a result of unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle. In a majority of cases, it is caused by eating late meals, spicy or greasy food, eating too much, or drinking excess alcohol or caffeine (from coffee, tea or caffeine - containing drinks). It is also a common problem for pregnant women, because of the increased pressure that the constantly growing womb exerts on the stomach. Lying down or bending right after meals, thus bringing the stomach in line with or above the esophagus, can also cause reflux of stomach content.

Problems

Although most what majority of people ever experience from gastric reflux is heartburn, GERD can become chronic, and can lead to ulcers or even esophageal cancer. It is therefor important to recognize symptoms of acid reflux as soon as possible and treat and prevent its renewed appearance.

Symptoms of gastric reflux

Symptoms of gastric reflux include heartburn, nausea, cough or constant cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulties connected to swallowing and regurgitation. Children affected with GERD may be irritable, without appetite, and may be crying for no apparent reason.

Treatment

Best thing to do is to change eating habits, which means reducing size of meals, eating several small meals instead of a few large ones, avoiding spicy and greasy food, and losing excess weight.

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