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Reflux can be a sign of serious health problems

Reflux can be a sign of serious health problems

Burning in the stomach is the most common sign of reflux disease that, diagnosed early, can prevent numerous health complications. However, people who suffer from this problem do not always treat it properly, often self-medicate and disguise even more serious problems.

Reflux is a term used to describe a condition called gastroesophageal reflux ( GERD), which is the return of food and acidic liquids after the meal, which may also contain bile, from the stomach into the esophagus. Caused by chronic exposure of the mucosa to the acidic contents of the stomach, reflux leads the patient to burns, heartburn, inflammation, and even more serious injuries, the most common being esophagitis. When reflux is not treated, Barrett's ulcers and esophagus may appear, a transformation of the tissue lining the organ. This is already a premalignant condition and can, without proper treatment, progress to cancer.

Heartburn and burning

Food

The type of food is one of the factors that cause reflux. Also, being overweight is also an important triggering factor of the problem because it entails a weakening of the valve that prevents reflux. But other than obesity, other events that increase the intra-abdominal pressure can cause this disorder, such as pregnancy, ascites (accumulation of fluid inside the abdomen, known as the belly of water), people who are very constipated and have to do a lot of force to evacuate; hernia and motor alterations of the esophagus or the gastroesophageal sphincter.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, it is estimated that 12% of the Brazilian population suffers from gastroesophageal reflux. In most patients, reflux occurs spontaneously through the transient relaxation of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, a physiological barrier that prevents gastric acids from leaving the stomach. The lesion of the esophageal mucosa is related to the quality, quantity and frequency of reflux. A gastric acid fluid with a pH less than 3.9 is extremely caustic to the mucosa, the main agent being harmful in most cases. In some patients, reflux of biliary and pancreatic secretions may contribute to injury.

The type of feeding is one of the factors that cause reflux. In addition, overweight is also an important triggering factor.

Main symptoms and prevention

The reflux begins with that burning sensation in the "mouth" of the stomach, behind the breast bone. Already people with stenosis - a narrowing of the esophagus - may find it very difficult to swallow liquids and all kinds of food. There are several symptoms associated with reflux: coughing, throat clearing, shortness of breath, night gag and heartburn.

Foods rich in xanthine, such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, and some asthma medications with this compound. In addition, there is a need to moderate the consumption of tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, corn derivatives, and especially the cigarette because it decreases the pressure inside the esophagus and favors the passage of liquid from the stomach to that organ . People who smoke a lot have several symptoms of the disease, which only decrease when they quit.

Diagnosis and Treatments

It is only with clinical history that the case can be evaluated. Complications of reflux are investigated with a high digestive endoscopy. There are also other exams, but they are selective, to know the size of the hiatus hernia, to evaluate the pressures of the esophagus and to measure the quality and intensity of the contractions of the organ. The most indicated treatment is the so-called dietary-postural. However, there are some essential guidelines: avoid foods that cause discomfort; never eat and lie down - wait at least three hours after the meal; raise the head of the bed a few inches; lose weight; do not dress in tight clothing; avoid alcohol and gas; and use medications that decrease stomach acid production according to medical prescription.

Correction of reflux by surgery is usually done by laparoscopy and indicated in cases of complication of the disease, when the patient already has ulcers or Barrett's esophagus. It is also a solution in situations where the patient has what the experts call clinical intractability. This happens when the person follows the treatment strictly, controlling the feeding and taking the medicines, and does not improve or when the disease returns, once the patient stops the medication.


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