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Gastroesophageal Reflux Inverness

In a recent article, GE reflux was defined as the presence of two or more episodes of heartburn a week. The symptoms are due the acid contents of the stomach traveling up to the oesophagus as a result of reflux. But symptoms other than heartburn may also occur.

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Gastroesophageal Reflux

Although gastroesophageal reflux is a common condition - affecting approximately 14 percent to 20 percent of adults - many people are not aware of various aspects of this disease.

In a recent article, GE reflux was defined as the presence of two or more episodes of heartburn a week. The symptoms are due the acid contents of the stomach traveling up to the oesophagus as a result of reflux. But symptoms other than heartburn may also occur.

A chronic cough is frequently associated with GE reflux. So is hoarseness and frequent throat clearing. It may also cause an increase in asthma symptoms and erosion of dental enamel.

Chronic inflammation of the oesophagus due to GE reflux can result in scarring of the oesophagus and formation of excessive scar tissue. This can cause narrowing of the oesophagus and difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia.

Studies have also shown an increase incidence of adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus in individuals with GE reflux. As the rate of GE reflux increases, so does the rate of this cancer.

Certain foods, such as citrus foods, tomatoes, spicy foods and even caffeinated beverages can exacerbate the symptoms. It has also been reported that reflux can be initiated by fried and fatty foods, chocolate and mints.

So if you have GE reflux it makes sense to avoid these foods.

Treatment has changed significantly since Alka-Seltzer was one of the mainstays of treating heartburn.

First came medications that decreased the production of type 2 histamine, thus reducing the amount of acid that is produced in the stomach. Medications that reduce type 2 histamine are Tagamet, Pepcid, Axil and Zantac.

Then came proton-pump inhibitors. The proton-pump is needed in order for acid to be produced in the stomach. When it is prevented from functioning, very little acid is secreted by the stomach.

Medications that are proton-pump inhibitors include Prilosec and Nexium. These drugs are generally considered to be the most effective medications in the treatment of GE reflux.

Fortunately, the majority of cases of GE reflux are mild and can be effectively treated usually by medications and diet control. However, serious cases may require more medical intervention.

Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Centre, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organisation that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.

author: Dr. Murray Feingold