What Is Esophageal Reflux?

Q:
What Is Esophageal Reflux?

A:
Reflux means a backward or return flow. Specifically esophageal reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when your stomach contens come back up into your esophagus (see picture below). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a long-lasting and more serious form of GER. Most people with GERD can manage the discomfort by changing their lifestyle and taking over-the-counter medications.

How GERD occurs in the esophagus

Signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of GERD include:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:

  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep

Treatment

Over-the-counter medications

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid.
    Antacids, such as Mylanta, Rolaids and Tums, may provide quick relief.
  • Medications to reduce acid production.
    These medications, known as H-2-receptor blockers, include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) and ranitidine (Zantac).
  • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus.
    These medications, known as proton pump inhibitor, include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC).

Prescription medications

  • Prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers.
    These include prescription-strength famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine and ranitidine (Zantac).
  • Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors.
    These include esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex) and dexlansoprazole (Dexilant).
  • Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, such as Baclofen.

 

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Elevate the head of your bed to reduce heartburn during sleeping.
  • Don’t lie down after a meal.
  • Eat food slowly and chew thoroughly.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that trigger reflux. Common triggers include fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine.

 

If the above-mentioned medications and home remedies don’t help, please talk to your doctor immediately.

 

Keywords: esophageal reflux

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