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GERD (Heartburn)- What contributes to a heartburn?

Heartburn is the symptom of a condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, in which acid juice from the stomach returns into the oesophagus. This may lead to a harsh, burning sensation in the upper abdomen, moving through the chest and throat to the neck. The oesophagus or the food pipe, has a small ring of muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). This acts as a valve, opening during swallowing and closing immediately to prevent moving back of the contents from the stomach to the oesophagus. When however, this valve fails to close adequately, the stomach acids may reflux back into the oesophagus causing a burning sensation. What contributes to a heartburn? * Fatty and spicy foods delay stomach emptying leading to an increased tendency to reflux. * Certain types of medications like ibuprofen. * Excessive alcohol intake and smoking. * Obesity, which may lead to an increased pressure in the abdominal cavity, causing the contents of the stomach to move back to the oesophagus. * A structurally weak sphincter muscle. * Hiatus hernia, in which the stomach may push through the diaphragm, preventing the muscle fibres of the diaphragm from closing the lower end of the oesophagus. What are the symptoms? # Painful burning in the upper chest or abdomen # Indigestion causing upset stomach # Regurgitation or throwing up # Difficulty in sleeping after eating # Hoarseness and sore throat # Bitter or sour taste in the throat.
Mon, 3 May 2010
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  User's Response
How is heartburn treated? A reflux problem is treated in 3 steps: 1. Lifestyle changes: Avoiding alcohol and eating less fatty foods may help. It is also advisable to lose weight, reduce smoking and alter eating and sleeping patterns. Taking small, frequent meals rather than large, heavy meals is recommended. 2. Drug therapy: Taking antacids may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. In severe cases drugs like ranitidine which reduce the amount of acid production may be prescribed. Drugs to strengthen the esophageal sphincter or relieve the symptoms may also help. 3. Surgery: Patients who do not respond well to drug therapy, may need to undergo a surgical procedure called anti-reflux surgery, the commonest being Nissen’s fundoplication. This operation may be done by an open procedure or by a laparoscope.
  User's Response
Its quite common these days coz of Stress & other mental probs///
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