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Acid reflux can cause other major health problems

At least 80 percent of people with adult-onset asthma have some type of acid reflux, though most people would never connect the two conditions. And while many people will experience symptoms of acid reflux disease during their lifetimes, those who fail to treat it may be inviting or fostering major health problems, medical specialists say.

Avoiding things that can spark acid reflux — including chocolate, onions, citrus, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine — is the obvious treatment for many who deal with regular heartburn after consuming them, but doctors who treat acid reflux disease have other ways of helping patients as well.

Barnett said initial suggestions include weight loss, avoiding food or drink for three hours before bedtime, elevating the head of one's bed 6 to 8 inches for those who suffer with nighttime reflux and avoiding tight-fitting clothing, belts or girdles that squeeze the abdominal cavity.

Once the 48 hours is up, the patient returns the recording device to the doctor's office, where specialists examine the number of acid reflux episodes, their duration and the total amount of time that the pH in the patient's esophagus is at abnormal levels. Though the body has mechanisms within both the esophagus and the salivary glands to deal with and neutralize acid, it often can't keep up with the reflux that occurs, he said.

Surgery is only considered if the duration of severity of symptoms hasn't been successfully treated another way, Barnett said.

For those who need surgery, most choose an arthroscopic procedure called "Nissen fundoplication," which involves wrapping the stomach around the esophagus, or a partial "Toupe fundoplication," which is a partial wrap of the stomach around the esophagus.

"We can't wrap it too tight, or people can't swallow," Barnett said.

Those treatments are done much more often than open surgical procedures, which are reserved for patients with a previous surgery that failed.

People who fail, for whatever reason, to treat chronic reflux may find they develop esophageal cancer, which is extremely difficult to treat, he said.

"That's why treatment for this is important, particularly if it's a long-standing condition." Complications of reflux outside the esophagus include chronic laryngitis, which can lead to cancer of the larynx, and chronic pulmonary problems.

Source: Deseret News - Carrie A. Moore - ‎Jan 8, 201


By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 05/02/2010