Acid reflux happens when acid stomach contents regularly flow back into the esophagus. This is because the little adductor muscle (sphincter), which is located at the transition from the esophagus to the stomach, is open more often. Acid reflux occurs, among other things, in pregnant women, obese people and in people with a diaphragmatic hernia.

Cause

There are several causes for the regular flowing back of gastric acid into the esophagus. The most common causes are:

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of acid reflux are:

Many people with acid reflux suffer from the symptoms especially at night. Additionally, symptoms often occur after meals.

Diagnosis

The doctor can make the diagnosis of acid reflux on the basis of the symptoms. In some cases, further examination is necessary:

Treatment

Sometimes, the doctor provides dietary advice and rules of life that can reduce the symptoms. The following medications may be prescribed:

If medication in combination with dietary advice and rules of life don't sufficiently help to reduce the symptoms, the doctor may suggest surgery. This operation is also called an anti-reflux operation. During this keyhole surgery, the upper part of the stomach is twisted around the bottom of the esophagus as a kind of cuff. The stomach is no longer able then to rise up through the diaphragmatic hernia.

Prognosis

Most cases of acid reflux are treated effectively with changes in lifestyle, by using self-care products or by prescription of drugs. Relapse is common when treatment is completely stopped.
Acid reflux can potentially lead to inflammation of the throat, larynx, esophagus and airway. Serious complications, such as bleeding or difficulty swallowing, are quite rare. When untreated, chronic acid reflux can occasionally lead to esophageal cancer.

Considerations

Facts