Acid reflux is scientifically known as GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It is a disease characterized by the abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus resulting to chronic symptoms or mucosal damage.
Acid reflux is often caused by temporary or permanent alterations in the lining that separates the esophagus and the stomach. Ineffectiveness of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) or a temporary LES relaxation connected with a hiatal hernia are just some of the common causes of acid reflux. The process can also lead to a backflow of gastric juices to the pharynx or mouth.
Among adults, the most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn which is caused by the presence of acid in the esophagus. Heartburn is characterized by a painful burning sensation behind the sternum or breastbone. Another symptom or manifestation of acid reflux is esophagitis which is characterized by an inflammation of the lining of the esophagus which is also known as the mucosal lining. Esophagitis also causes swallowing difficulties and chronic pains in the chest area.
Sometimes, individuals suffering from acid reflux may also experience coughing, persistent pain in the ears, hoarseness or a change in the voice and even sinusitis. If acid reflux gets complicated it may lead to formation of a stricture or ulcers in the esophagus. It may also lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus and in worst cases, to cancer of the esophagus.
It doesn’t mean however that a person who regularly suffers from heartburn is suffering from acid reflux. By all means, the heartburn may be from other causes. But if a person suffers from heartburn for more than once a week, then he or she is at a risk of acquiring acid reflux. Persons with hiatal hernia are also at a greater risk of developing acid reflux than those who are not.
The pain felt by persons suffering from heartburn is caused by the reflux of acid contents from the stomach to the esophagus. A pain in the chest area coming upwards the mouth.
Persons suffering from acid reflux may also experience tasting something sour or salty behind her throat. This is cause by regurgitation. This sour and salty taste may persist even without heartburn,
Other less common symptoms of acid reflux include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, halitosis or bad breath, repeated throat clearing and water brash or hyeprsecretion of saliva.
The symptoms of acid reflux in children are also the same as that on adults. Acid reflux in children may manifest in frequent spitting, throwing up repeatedly, coughing and other respiratory problems. Children suffering from acid reflux may also experience weight loss, frequent crying, loss of appetite and bad breath. Parents must remember though that children may show one or many symptoms. There is not one symptom that is always present in children with acid reflux.
The cause of acid reflux in children, especially in babies is their immature digestive system. This is why infants stop having acid reflux when they reach the first year of age. However, some children do not outgrow acid reflux. Some continue to suffer from the disease up to the teen years.
The best thing to do for parents of children suffering from acid reflux is to take the children to the doctor as soon as possible to avoid any complications.