ABC Medical Center > Gastroesophageal reflux

What is Gastroesophageal reflux?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is a digestive system condition that appears when the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the valve that joins the esophagus with the stomach, does not close properly and allows stomach acid to return to the esophagus, causing burns to the esophageal mucosa.

Gastroesophageal reflux is a common disease in various population segments, but above all, a significant percentage of pregnant women experience symptoms related to this condition, which when it becomes chronic and causes more serious damage, can cause serious complications.

Several factors can contribute to its appearance, among them, the presence of a hiatal hernia.

Some other diseases or factors that can increase the risk of gastroesophageal reflux are:

  • Scleroderma.
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • Being pregnant.
  • Slow digestive process.
  • Excessive food intake at night or shortly before bed.
  • Consume alcohol or coffee.
  • Smoking.
  • Excess fat in the diet.
  • Ingest certain drugs that irritate the gastric mucosa.

Signs and symptoms Gastroesophageal reflux

The most common symptoms consist of:

  • Heartburn.
  • Swallowing problems.
  • Pain and burning in the chest.
  • Regurgitation of food or acidic liquids.
  • Perception of having a blocked throat.
  • Inflammation of the larynx.
  • Coughing fits.
  • Difficulty sleeping properly.

Potential risks:

  • Esophageal stricture:  Stomach acids cause scarring in the esophagus, reducing the space for food to pass and causing swallowing problems.
  • Esophageal ulcer:  stomach acids generate wounds that cause pain and bleeding, hindering the swallowing process.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: acids alter the esophageal mucosa, increasing the chances of developing esophageal cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment Gastroesophageal reflux

Once your doctor reviews your symptoms and medical history, they will perform a physical examination and order a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • Digestive X-rays.
  • Endoscopy: allows the assessment of the degree of burn of the esophagus mucosa, the functionality of the lower esophageal sphincter, the existence of hiatal hernia, and the presence of Barrett’s esophagus, a diagnosis that is confirmed by taking biopsies.
  • pH test: through a probe in your esophagus, it is possible to measure the frequency and intensity of stomach acid regurgitation.
  • Esophageal manometry: measures the functionality of the esophageal muscles.

The treatment will be focused on controlling the symptoms produced by gastroesophageal reflux and its origin through the intake of antacids and medications that help inhibit or block acid production. However, in extreme cases, surgery may be required.

At the ABC Medical Center Internal Medicine Department we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies, of chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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