Acid reflux, also known as GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) is the phenomenon where stomach juices including acid travel back (reflux) to the esophagus from the stomach. Research done recently shows that some one in five people in the developed world must put up once a week with symptoms related to acid reflux, while a further one in five suffer from the distress and sometimes pain of these symptoms at least every month. However, most patients do not really know what GERD is.
What are the local causes of acid reflux?
Gastro esophageal reflux disease happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (the name for the circle of muscle that is the valve between the stomach and the esophagus) does not shut correctly and lets stomach juices be thrown back up, or reflux, into the esophagus. When the esophagus lining is impacted by these juices, this produces the burning sensation in the chest and/or the throat, which is called heartburn.
Although it seems strange, heartburn may also be symptomatic of too little stomach acid. The level of stomach acid has to be enough for digestion to be effective, and prevent the stomach from being obliged to work much harder for the food to be digested. In time, the extra effort of the stomach can lead to acid reflux happening.
As well as the immediate factors leading to gastro esophageal reflux disease, there are also genetic factors (beyond our control) and several other internal factors and cofactors, that make for a context encouraging GERD. A long-term solution can only come from treating the internal factors primarily responsible for causing GERD.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
Healthy people also get occasional heartburn, and this alone does not mean that you have a gastro esophageal reflux disease. Diagnosis of GERD is typically based on a recurring (twice weekly or more) manifestation of heartburn. Symptoms may be different for some GERD patients, such as chest pains, morning hoarseness or problems swallowing. Other patients experience a sensation of food getting stuck in their throat or choking or stricture. Recurring dry coughs are also symptoms for this last group of patients.
What are the dangers of acid reflux?
Neglected GERD can have not only unpleasant, perhaps painful symptoms, but can also generate grave complications. Firstly, tissue damage scars can cause constriction of the esophagus and problems in swallowing. Secondly, gastric acid can inflame the esophagus over time to lead to ulcers or bleeding. Thirdly, some victims can develop a condition where cells in the lining of the esophagus take on abnormal shapes and colors, a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. Protracted Barrett’s esophagus may result in cancer, notably for adults who are more than 60 years old.
Solutions for acid reflux
Treating gastro esophageal reflux disease can be done in one of three ways: a surgical operation; prescription or over-the-counter medicaments; and holistic therapy, using dietary and lifestyle changes, detox, and specific herbal supplements. In very many cases, gastro esophageal reflux disease can be resolved and stopped by natural solutions, avoiding the dangers of surgical treatment or prescribed medicaments. This holistic approach to GERD is also confirmed by a review of recent research that indicates that acid reflux is a medical condition provoked mostly by factors of diet, lifestyle and behavior.
So what is acid reflux? Seen in the context of conventional medicine that compares it to other similar recurring conditions, acid reflux is to be treated by constantly ingesting drugs, antacids and over the counter medicament that only bring temporary relief.
Seen from the holistic viewpoint, gastro esophageal reflux disease is the danger signal for a major internal imbalance that must be corrected. Alternative treatments for GERD therefore (homeopathic cures, herbal treatment, diet and lifestyle alterations and detoxification), by solving the internal cause of acid reflux, are inherently better compared to conventional cures that only bring superficial relief.