Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). The throat communicates with the nasal passages. In small children, two patches of lymph tissue, called the adenoids , are located where the upper part of the throat joins the nasal passages. The passages from the sinuses and the tubes from the middle ears (Eustachian tubes) open into the rear of the nasal passages near the adenoids. Refluxed liquid that enters the upper throat can inflame the adenoids and cause them to swell. The swollen adenoids then can block the passages from the sinuses and the Eustachian tubes. When the sinuses and middle ears are closed off from the nasal passages by the swelling of the adenoids, fluid accumulates within them. This accumulation of fluid can lead to discomfort in the sinuses and ears. Since the adenoids are prominent in young children, and not in adults, this fluid accumulation in the ears and sinuses is seen in children and not adults.
When GERD affects the throat or larynx and causes symptoms of cough, hoarseness , or sore throat , patients often visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT specialist frequently finds signs of inflammation of the throat or larynx. Although diseases of the throat or larynx usually are the cause of the inflammation, sometimes GERD can be the cause. Accordingly, ENT specialists often try acid-suppressing treatment to confirm the diagnosis of GERD. This approach, however, has the same problems as discussed above, that result from using the response to treatment to confirm GERD.
The acid perfusion test, however, is used only rarely. A better test for correlating pain and acid reflux is a 24-hour esophageal pH or pH capsule study during which patients note when they are having pain. It then can be determined from the pH recording if there was an episode of acid reflux at the time of the pain. This is the preferable way of deciding if acid reflux is causing a patient’s pain. It does not work well, however, for patients who have infrequent pain, for example every two to three days, which may be missed by a one or two day pH study. In these cases, an acid perfusion test may be reasonable.
Elevation of the upper body at night generally is recommended for all patients with GERD. Nevertheless, most patients with GERD have reflux only during the day and elevation at night is of little benefit for them. It is not possible to know for certain which patients will benefit from elevation at night unless acid testing why not check here clearly demonstrates night reflux. However, patients who have heartburn, regurgitation, or other symptoms of GERD at night are probably experiencing reflux at night and definitely should elevate their upper body when sleeping. Reflux also occurs less frequently when patients lie on their left rather than their right sides.
Some physicians – primarily surgeons – recommend that all patients with Barrett’s esophagus should have surgery. This recommendation is based on the belief that surgery is more effective than endoscopic surveillance or ablation of the abnormal tissue followed by treatment with acid-suppressing drugs in preventing both the reflux and the cancerous changes in the esophagus. There are no studies, however, demonstrating the superiority of surgery over drugs or ablation for the treatment of GERD and its complications. Moreover, the effectiveness of drug treatment can be monitored with 24 hour pH testing.