Antacids provide rapid but short-term relief by reducing the acidity of the stomach contents. Any reflux is then relatively harmless as it consists of alginic acid and not damaging stomach acid. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (also known as esophago-gastro-duodenoscopy or EGD ) is a common way of diagnosing GERD. EGD is a procedure in which a tube containing an optical system for visualization is swallowed. As the tube progresses down the gastrointestinal tract, the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum can be examined.
That’s why people with chronic heartburn raise the head of their bed, and why they shouldn’t eat big meals right before bedtime. One cause that is not preventable is a hiatal (or hiatus) hernia A hole in the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, sometimes leading to GERD. There are a variety of over-the-counter (for example, antacids and foam barriers) and prescription medications (for example, proton pump inhibitors, histamine antagonists, and promotility drugs) for treating GERD.
Acid reflux creates a burning pain in the lower chest area, often after eating. GERD may damage the lining of the esophagus, thereby causing inflammation ( esophagitis ), although this is uncommon. Although antacids can neutralize acid, they do so for only a short period of time. For substantial neutralization of acid throughout the day, antacids would need to be given frequently, at least every hour. For infrequent heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD, life-style changes and an occasional antacid may be all that is necessary. If heartburn is frequent, daily non-prescription-strength (over-the-counter) H2 antagonists may be adequate. A foam barrier also can be used with the antacid or H2 antagonist.
As previously mentioned, swallows are important in eliminating acid in the esophagus. Swallowing causes a ring-like wave of contraction of the esophageal muscles, which narrows the lumen (inner cavity) of the esophagus. The contraction, referred to as peristalsis, begins in the upper esophagus and travels to the lower esophagus. It pushes food, visit the site saliva, and whatever else is in the esophagus into the stomach. A ring of muscle, the gastroesophageal sphincter , normally acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up into the esophagus. When this valve fails, and stomach contents are regurgitated into the esophagus, the symptoms of acid reflux are felt, such as heartburn.