Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic digestive condition that causes painful heartburn and regurgitation for millions of Americans every year. It occurs when the contents of the stomach seep backward into the esophagus. ENT physicians often treat reflux when the symptoms affect the throat, causing chronic sore throat, taste disorders, hoarse voice, swallowing problems, post nasal drip and even sleep apnea.
What Causes Reflux?
Normally, following a meal, a sphincter between the esophagus (swallowing tube) and the stomach, closes and prevents acid produced in the digestive process from backing up (refluxing) into the esophagus. When this sphincter fails to close properly, reflux occurs and the stomach contents flow freely into the esophagus and throat. This damages the esophageal lining and causes a variety of painful symptoms, sometimes affecting the throat, mouth and even ears.
What Are the Symptoms of Reflux?
Heartburn is most commonly associated with GERD. Also known as acid indigestion, this burning pain radiates from the stomach to the abdomen and chest, and may last for up to two hours after a meal. It is frequently accompanied by regurgitation, a sour taste in the mouth, and dyspepsia or general stomach discomfort. Other symptoms often include belching, bloating, coughing, wheezing, hoarseness and nausea.
Symptoms occur most frequently after eating, when lying down or when bending over. They are most common at night. The most common cause of GERD is a hiatal hernia, a stomach abnormality that causes the sphincter valve and upper portion of the stomach to move above the diaphragm, allowing stomach acids to reflux more easily.
How Is Reflux Treated?
Over-the-counter antacids can help neutralize stomach acids and relieve the symptoms. For recurring symptoms and more serious cases that do not respond to over-the-counter medical treatment, consulting a physician is advised.
If you have experienced recurrent throat symptoms like those mentioned here, it may be time to call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an evaluation with our throat specialist.