Acid reflux (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) is a physiological condition that causes the content of the stomach to reflux into the esophagus and throat. Although there are many factors that contribute to the development of acid reflux, the main cause is inappropriate activity of the lower esophageal sphincter (muscular valve that seals the lower ending of the esophagus), allowing the stomach acids to reach the upper levels of the body. Additional causes of acid reflux are inappropriate diet, unhealthy lifestyle or other physical dysfunctions and conditions.
Acid reflux can become serious if it is not appropriately treated. The symptoms of acid reflux should be spotted quickly, in order to prevent the development of complications (esophageal inflammation and lesions, damage of the throat, gastro-intestinal disorders, breathing problems). The symptoms of acid reflux are easy to identify and it is best to see a physician as soon as they occur. The condition has a chronic character and usually requires ongoing treatment. For some patients, surgery is best alternative in overcoming acid reflux.
Acid reflux is very common in infants and young children. Although for most babies the symptoms of acid reflux disappear with time, in some cases the condition can persist for years, causing serious harm to the gastro-intestinal system and the esophagus. The most common symptoms of acid reflux in infants are: spitting, vomiting, coughing, irritability, discomfort when feeding and the presence of blood in feces. Other symptoms of acid reflux in babies occur if the condition is severe: pronounced difficulty swallowing, intense pain when feeding, spitting or coughing blood, vomiting blood, presence of blood in stools, problems with breathing.
Common symptoms of acid reflux in adults are: abdominal pain and discomfort (especially after meals), bad breath, bitter taste in the mouth, excessive secretion of saliva, and sleeping problems. People with acid reflux can also develop apnea, a sleeping disorder manifested through respiratory insufficiency.
The extended symptoms of acid reflux in adults are: difficulty swallowing, chest burn and aching, poor appetite, nausea, presence of blood in vomit and stools, throat inflammation and pain, breathing difficulties. If the symptoms of acid reflux become very intense it is a clear sign of aggravation. Acid reflux can cause serious damage at the level of the esophagus, due to its constant exposure to stomach gastric acid. Acid reflux can cause inflammation, swelling and even scarring of the esophageal soft tissue. It is very important to pay attention to the symptoms of acid reflux, and act quickly in overcoming the condition. If acid reflux occurs frequently, it can cause serious complications.