Acid Reflux and GERD

Prevention

There are several ways to prevent the onset of acid reflux or the worsening of GERD symptoms, and most are simple lifestyle changes. It is important to avoid stomach irritants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. In addition, limiting spicy, fatty and fried foods, citrus, tomato, mint, garlic and onion can help. Patients should avoid overeating. Choosing smaller, more frequent meals over large ones can provide some relief. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight reduce the risk of developing acid reflux and GERD.

Treatment

Doctors often recommend antacids such as TUMS, H-C-receptor blockers such as Pepcid AC and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec OTC in treatment. H-C-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors are also available in prescription strengths for more severe cases. When medication does not help improve symptoms, surgical intervention is an option.

A surgeon can use open surgery or laparoscopic surgery to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux, or a Stretta procedure to cause scar tissue to form in the esophagus. This can help strengthen esophageal muscles. Doctors are currently performing a new procedure where surgeons insert a device called an esophyx at the base of the esophagus. The esophyx serves as a sphincter in place of the faulty one. At this time, doctors are still identifying the best cases where this procedure is best used.

Recent Debates and Developments

Doctors have found an astounding link between acid reflux and GERD and throat cancer. In one study, patients with acid reflux and GERD were found to have an incredible 78 percent increase in risk for developing throat cancer. Doctors did note that the study showed that patients who used antacids were less likely to develop the cancer, but H-C-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors had no effect in decreasing cancer risk. Research continues into the reasons behind the increased risk and the effectiveness of antacid use.

More Information

Kids Health: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/digestive/gerd.html
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heartburn-gerd/AN00998
Medline Plus: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/vivisimo/cgi-bin/query-meta?v%3aproject=medlineplus&v%3asources=medlineplus-bundle&query=acid%20reflux&
Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_137128.html

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