Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms, Causes, Tests, and Treatments

Just recently I returned to the doctor as I was experiencing an increase in heartburn. I was sent for another barium swallow. I went to a different lab than the first test.

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Symptoms that awaken patients from sleep also are more likely to be due to non-functional than functional disease. Different subtypes of indigestion (for example, abdominal pain and abdominal bloating) are likely to be caused by different physiologic processes (mechanisms).

Treatment for GER & GERD

“I have been taking Omeprazole 20 mg daily – for over 10 years to treat acid reflux. I also have asthma and a tendency to get chest infections. Medications to treat GERD reduce stomach acid. Antacid pills and liquids have been around the longest. More recently, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole (Prilosec) or lansoprazole (Prevacid), and H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet) or ranitidine (Zantac), have become available, many over the counter. Long-term use of PPIs is linked to a risk of bone fractures, low vitamin B12, and pneumonia.

In an ambulatory pH monitoring examination, the doctor puts a tiny tube into the esophagus that will stay there for 24 hours. While you go about your normal activities, it measures when and how much acid comes up into your esophagus. This test is useful in people with GERD symptoms but no esophageal damage. The procedure is also helpful in detecting whether respiratory symptoms, including wheezing and coughing, are triggered by reflux.

But your body actually needs stomach acid to stay healthy. Stomach acid is necessary to digest protein and food, activate digestive enzymes in your small intestine, keep the bacteria from growing in your small intestine, and help you absorb important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Things have certainly changed since I was in medical school. In those days, GERD wasn’t even considered a serious disease.

It also is possible, however, that the same subtype of indigestion may be caused by different mechanisms in different people. What’s more, any drug is likely to affect only one mechanism. Therefore, it is unlikely that any one medication can be effective in all-even most-patients with indigestion, even patients with similar symptoms.

GERD Surgery

Small cuts or incisions are made in your child’s belly. A small tube with a camera on the end is placed into one of the incisions to look inside. The surgical tools are put through the other incisions. The surgeon looks at a video screen to see the stomach and other organs. The top part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus.

The term “heartburn” is misleading. The heart actually has nothing to do with the pain. Heartburn occurs in your digestive system. Specifically, in your esophagus.

These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach. Less acid in the stomach means less acid available for back-up into the esophagus. Some examples are cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and famotidine (Pepcid). Low doses of these drugs are available without a prescription. More potent doses require a prescription.

3 days of acid reflux

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April 24, 2010

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