Also known as Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease or GERD, acid reflux is the abnormal reflux or regurgitation of the stomach’s contents back into the throat that results in chronic symptoms and mucosal damage. It is normally caused when the lower esophageal sphincter is either damaged or relaxes at inappropriate times, allowing the contents of the stomach to reflux back into the esophagus.

 

How do you know if you have acid reflux disease? That’s a good question because for many people the symptoms are not always the same.

 

The symptom most associated with GERD is heartburn, so named because the burning sensation behind the breastbone feels like your heart is burning. Other common symptoms include chronic chest and throat pain as well as difficulty swallowing. I some cases a combination of these symptoms appear while in others only one is experienced.

 

Having heartburn every once in a while doesn’t necessarily mean you have acid reflux. If the heartburn becomes more persistent and occurs more then once a week there is an increased risk of developing acid reflux. Another risk factor for developing this disease is a having a hiatal hernia.

 

More atypical symptoms of acid reflux are a chronic cough, hoarse voice, changes in your voice, a burning sensation at the back of the throat, and in more severe cases a consistent ear ache or sinusitis.

 

Left untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause a number of complications; these include Barrett’s esophagus, ulcers in the throat, and in extreme cases cancer of the esophagus.

 

Recognizing the symptoms of acid reflux in infants and children is a little harder to recognize simply because they can’t always tell us what exactly what they are experiencing. In infants, and in particular preemie babies, their still immature gastrointestinal tract is the normal reason they suffer from it. Most infants outgrow it and are symptom free by the time they turn one year old.

 

In infants the signs to look for include constant crying that is inconsolable, refusal to eat which leads to inadequate weight gain, and bad breath. You may also see constant spitting up, vomiting, coughing and general respiratory distress. Older children may complain of re-occurring heartburn or some of the other symptoms of adult reflux. Any infant or child exhibiting any of these symptoms needs to see their pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis.

 

Acid reflux is one of those conditions that at first doesn’t seem like much other then an annoying case of heartburn. But a failure to recognize its chronic nature along with other symptoms can lead to further complications that can affect long term health. It is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above.

To learn more about acid reflux disease and its treatment please visit the website Acid Reflux Disease by clicking here.

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