Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). Hiatal hernias contribute to reflux, although the way in which they contribute is not clear. A majority of patients with GERD have hiatal hernias, but many do not. Therefore, it is not necessary to have a hiatal hernia in order to have GERD. Moreover, many people breaking news have hiatal hernias but do not have GERD. It is not known for certain how or why hiatal hernias develop. The stomach contains hydrochloric acid, a strong acid that helps break down food and protect against pathogens such as bacteria. Exact figures vary, but diseases resulting from acid reflux are the most common gut complaint seen by hospital departments in the United States.
It is not clear, however, if frequent heartburn actually causes people to develop asthma. Although many people who have heartburn also have asthma and vice versa, the reasons for this overlap aren’t clear. Repeated damage to the oesophagus by stomach acid can also cause it to become scarred and narrowed. Clearly, we have much to learn about the relationship between acid reflux and esophageal damage, and about the processes (mechanisms) responsible for heartburn. This issue is of more than passing interest. Knowledge of the mechanisms that produce heartburn and esophageal damage raises the possibility of new treatments that would target processes other than acid reflux.
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. Symptoms of acid reflux may be a sign that stomach acid has inflamed your esophagus When that happens, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause bleeding. Over time, it can also change the cells of esphagus and cause cancer (Barrett’s esophagus).
Use this list of foods from the National Heartburn Alliance (plus recipes!) to reduce acid reflux. GERD occurs when stomach acids back up into the esophagus due to a poor-functioning lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a band of muscle that acts as a valve between the esophagus and the stomach. Acid-suppressing medications may relieve ulcer pain. But ulcers are usually caused by Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that inflames the stomach lining, so you will need to take antibiotics to clear the infection.