What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is the backflow of stomach contents to the throat. It is also called Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or heartburn. The stomach is very important in the digestion of food. It produces a number of acidic substances called enzymes that break food down. When the stomach juices containing these enzymes get into the throat, it can break down the tissues that are part of the wall and cause a lot of damage.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common problem. The symptoms of acid reflux may be a sour taste in the mouth or the sufferer may not notice anything at all. It can cause voice problems, chronic cough, choking episodes, trouble breathing and the feeling of their throat being raw. The patient often has a hoarse voice and is always clearing their throat. Some patients describe feeling a lump in the throat and trouble swallowing.
What Causes Acid Reflux
The specific cause in many patients is not always easy to discover.
Diagnosis of Acid Reflux
As with the diagnosis of any health problem, your doctor will start by talking to you about the history of your problem and your symptoms. He or she will then examine your throat. There is some special testing that is specific to acid reflux. These are called pH-monitoring test and barium swallow. Your doctor may also recommend an esophagoscopy where a camera is inserted into the esophagus.
Treatments for Acid Reflux
Even if the cause is unknown, acid reflux can be treated to help reduce the impact of the problem. The treatment of acid reflux is often complex and involves a variety of approaches. Doctors will tailor the treatment to their patients. The approaches available are dietary modifications, behavioral modifications, medications that reduce stomach acid or even surgery.
Dietary modifications include avoiding fatty and spicy foods, eating less acidic foods like those based on citrus or tomato and to limit alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, peppermint and dairy products. Don’t lie down right after meals, instead wait three to four hours and don’t eat at night.
Other recommendations are to lose weight if you are overweight, avoid large meals and to exercise but avoid exercising around bedtime or after meals. Don’t use tight fitting clothes and stop smoking if you are a smoker.