Eating habits of Indians include oily and sweet food intake and now add to it the junk food habits of the urban class.. all these roads end up to one common destination – heart burn. Heart burn is often ignored by people because it is a common condition that most of us happen to suffer from.
HEART BURN OR ACID REFLUX
Heart burn is also known as acid reflux and is also a symptom for gastro esophadeal reflux. Our body consists of a specialized muscle called esophageal sphincter (LES) placed at the lowerside of the esophagus or food pipe. When we eat food, it opens up to allow food to pass through and instantly closes down to avoid reflux or backward movement of food, acids or enzymes present in the stomach into the food pipe. In order to avoid inflammation, the stomach is provided with a lining of special protective cells. But, esophagus has no such lining for protection hence is vulnerable to damage if there is a reflux of acids and digestive juices into it. Heart burn, also a general symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) occurs when the digestive juices and acids reflux back into the esophagus.
Irregular and improper dietary habits usually pave the way to heartburn. Again, there are certain foods that instigate the secretion of acids in stomach again leading to the same. Some of these foods include intake of fruits containing acidic juices like pineapple, orange and veggies like tomatoes. Drugs like ibuprofen ans aspirin ,chocolates and caffeine, aerated drinks, alchohol and smoking and obesity, pregnancy and hiatal hernia, to name a few.
Ignoring a prolonged condition of heartburn could lead to ulcer formation, scarring and stricture and other related GERD complications. Heartburn could also lead to change in the type of cells lining the esophagus further causing Barett’s esophagus – a condition known to increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
Recurring heartburn needs a diagnosis, definitely. It includes physical examination and medical history.
X- Ray Test – A X-ray test that needs the patient to consume to contrasting drugs while watching the complete process through a x-ray. This is done to check whether the esophagus muscles are in good shape, working properly as well as for inflammations or issues withing the food pipe.
Endoscopy involves the use of a flexible scope fitted with a fibre optic camera for checking out the lining of esophagus and stomach.
Biopsy – This is only done if the gastroenterologists suspects possibilities of cancer.
Manometry – This is not a commonly used test in India and is carried out only if the traditional diagnosis does not give any outcome. Herein, pressure monitors are used measurement of acids inside the esophagus.
The primary treatment for heart burn involves change in lifestyle. This includes eating smaller potions of meals at frequent intervals, avoiding addictions like alcohol, smoking and more. Using a high pillow for head support while sleeping, avoiding or reducing fruits and veggies with excessive acids, weight loss if obese or overweight and using antacids but in limited proportions.
For patients suffering from Barrett’s esophagus, severe reflux issues leading to wheezing and pneumonia and intensive medical therapy failure, surgery is opted. With the advancement of technology laparoscopy is also used for non invasive treatment of more serious esophagus conditions like carcinoma.
So next time, take heart burn issues seriously and if it is recurring and prolonged then do consult a doctor because little do we know that heart burn might just be a sign of life threatening kidney disease like kidney cancer or even failure. Furthermore, do consult a doctor if you need to take heartburn drugs for a prolonged time period because regular intake could lead to serious renal issues as well.
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