Reflux disease – functional disorder with painful consequencesDie Reflux disease is a functional disorder of the lower sphincter of the esophagus. This disorder causes a reflux of digestive juices back into the esophagus. A consequence of the reflux disease is reflux esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophageal mucosa, which can lead to esophageal cancer if it occurs more frequently. The gastroesophageal Reflux disease occurs in about 10 percent of the population and is therefore one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases.
These triggers can have a reflux disease
If the lower sphincter, which is responsible for closing the stomach from the esophagus, fails, gastric juice can flow back into the esophagus. The affected person perceives this as heartburn. Another reason for the lack of closure can be anatomical malformations, also a hiatus hernia, which is a gap in the diaphragm can be the cause of reflux. The reflux disease is Reflux disease by overweight, alcohol consumption, nicotine and various drugs (acetylsalicylic acid). Often, reflux also occurs during pregnancy because the embryo pushes the stomach toward the esophagus and the peristalsis of the esophagus may be disturbed by the hormonal changes.
Reflux does not always lead to damage or. Impairment of the esophageal mucosa. The peristalsis of the esophagus has a self-cleaning effect at the same time, so that the corrosive gastric juice cannot attack the mucous membrane. This function can be disrupted by fatty foods, hot spices, alcohol and nicotine, causing gastric juice to remain in the esophagus long enough to cause damage to the mucosa.
Heartburn as an important feature of reflux disease
The main symptom of Reflux disease is the heartburn, which is usually accompanied by pain behind the breastbone. Depending on the posture of the body, the heartburn increases, furthermore, burping may occur. This occurs primarily at night. The gastric juice partly rises up to the oral cavity. If it enters the windpipe, there is a strong urge to cough and shortness of breath. It can also cause sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, cough and asthma. Pain in the upper abdomen often occurs in connection with reflux disease. If the esophagus is already inflamed, there is difficulty swallowing, especially with solid food. Not always pronounced symptoms also mean a strong impairment of the esophageal mucosa.
How does the doctor diagnose a reflux disease?
If heartburn is present, this is an important indication of the gastroesophageal Reflux disease. If it is perceived by the sufferer as the main symptom, there is a high probability that it is the Reflux disease acts, at 75 percent. Endoscopy is performed to determine how inflamed the mucosa of the esophagus is. To measure the reflux of gastric juice into the esophagus, 24-hour ph-metry is used. In this procedure, the acidity in the lower esophagus is measured by a probe for 24 hours. If endoscopy is not possible, the degree of inflammation of the esophagus can also be determined by ultrasound, or in more severe cases by X-ray examination with contrast medium.
Therapy of dysfunctional reflux and reflux disease
In the early stages of gastroesophagealReflux disease the complaints can be reduced by a change of diet. Avoidance of fatty foods, hot spices, coffee, nicotine and alcohol leads to rapid results if the mucous membrane of the esophagus is still intact. Other measures include light meals before bedtime and a gap of more than three hours between the last meal and bedtime. If the use of drugs is necessary, so-called proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor blockers are used. These agents inhibit gastric acid production. Antacids, which neutralize stomach acid, can also be helpful, but should not be taken for long periods of time, as acid production increases after a while. Is the Reflux disease longer lasting and the esophagus already repeatedly or chronically inflamed, scarring forms that narrows the esophagus. In this case, surgery may be required. However, the risk of complications is high and the long-term effect is low, so that this is only used in individual cases.
A relatively new method of Reflux disease The most effective way to cure reflux disease is radiofrequency therapy, which uses radio waves to heat the sphincter muscle. There is a permanent thickening of the connective tie. The acid can no longer rise. The success rate is approx. 60 percent. The usually benign Reflux disease Runs in different stages. The non-erosive Reflux disease occurs at approx. 60 percent of those affected. Can be treated with acid inhibitors. Here the esophageal mucosa is still intact. But even in this case, the quality of life is already limited by the symptoms.
In the second stage, there is injury to the mucous membrane, called erosiveReflux disease. Proton pump inhibitors can be used here, which are effective in 90 percent of sufferers after approx. 2 weeks bring freedom from symptoms. If mucosal cells in the esophagus have already mutated, the risk of esophageal cancer is increased. It is called Barrett's esophagus. Here, treatment success is questionable and depends on the duration of reflux disease and the damage already done to the mucosa. Regular check-ups are advisable here.
Preventive measures are available in the case of gastroesophageal Reflux disease not. However, measures such as abstaining from alcohol, fat, nicotine and hot spices, as well as a moderate weight, can reduce the severity of the Reflux disease limit. The more consistently these rules of conduct are followed, the greater the likelihood that the Reflux disease does not recur.