Unbelievably, the acidity in your stomach is much the same as the acid used in your car battery. Knowing that fact, it should come as no surprise, why acid reflux burning in the chest is so painful when that same acid comes up into the esophagus. In some cases, vomit arises resulting from a weakened or relaxed oesophageal valve. In other cases, the vapours from the acid reflux causes tightness in the chest and temporarily disrupts oxygen flow to the heart, making many people fear they are having a heart attack.
Every year, over four and a half million Americans visit their doctors with the symptoms of acid reflux GERD otherwise known as Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease.
We all experience heartburn sometime in our lives. It may just be a one-off unpleasant burp. It may be “swallowing something down the wrong pipe” or dysphagia, difficulty swallowing. At its worst, acid reflux symptoms include debilitating chest pain. If you experience these symptoms on a regular basis over several months, then you may have acid reflux disease.
Diagnosis of Acid Reflux Burning Symptoms
When you see your doctor about heartburn or acid reflux burning, there are several medical tests to find out if your heartburn could damage the esophagus or internal organs.
The first test is called an Endoscopy, where a thin, flexible tube and video camera are passed into the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach. While that may sound painful or uncomfortable, there is no need to be worried because you will be under sedation and not feel anything.
The next check your physician may carry out is termed a Barium Esophagram. This particular test observes the form of the esophagus, searching for irregularities within the stomach and throat. You will ingest a chalky liquid that contains barium, which coats the esophagus and stomach, and makes it possible for them to be viewed in an X-ray.
Esophageal pH Monitoring
A third process, referred to as Esophageal pH Monitoring, checks for the amount of acid inside the esophagus over time. In one variation of this test, a tiny tube goes in through the nose, into the esophagus and an acidity monitor around the end measures acidity concentrations over a 24-hour period. Another technique to monitor consists of attaching a medical capsule sized monitor during an endoscopy, which checks acidity over a forty-eight-hour period. The monitor is then passed out like food.
While these methods might sound uncomfortable, it is much better than coping with a damaged esophagus further down the line!
Treatment Options for Acid Reflux Burning
The treatment options for acid reflux GERD vary from patient to patient.
Some people take antacids, which neutralize the stomach acids and helps to control acid reflux symptoms.
Other patients take mucosal protective agents to protect the esophagus. Sucralfate suspension, available only by prescription, acts like a gel layer that blocks stomach juices from rising out of the stomach. The thick Alginic acid is an over-the-counter method where the heartburn medicine floats on top of stomach acid to block esophagus contact.
Another treatment involves Promotility or Prokinetic Agents (prescribed Metoclopramide), which encourages the stomach to empty acid before it becomes a problem.
A fourth option helps you reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces by giving patients Acid-suppressive H2 Receptor Antagonists or Proton Pump Inhibitors.
In addition to these measures, doctors usually advocate that patients try to lose weight, quit smoking, wear looser fitting clothes, eat smaller meals, buy new pillows and avoid eating several hours before sleeping.
Foods that trigger acid reflux burning such as chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, caffeine, citrus, tomatoes and high fat foods should also be avoided.
It may seem like a hefty price to pay, but consider that the ultimate cost is your life!