Acidity is also called ACID REFLUX because here, the acid produced in the stomach moves upwards to the esophagus (food pipe) as a result of reflux action.
When this reflux starts happening frequently, it damages the esophagus.
When we consume food, it passes through our esophagus and enters our stomach. In the stomach, a few acids are produced to digest this food.
But in case of acidity (heartburn), the acids produced in the stomach tend to move upwards to the esophagus as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) present at the entry of the esophagus undesirably relaxes and allows easy entry of those acids into the esophagus.
The stomach is resistant to acids but the esophagus is sensitive to such acids (apart from esophageal acids) because the cells of its inner lining get damaged. This is what causes a burning sensation in the chest region during acidity which becomes severe when neglected.
And Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one such severe form of acidity.
Causes of Acidity
1. Eating unhealthy food
2. Aerated drinks, beverages, and alcohol
3. Eating at the wrong time
5. Self-medication with medicines
Effect of Acidity on the Esophagus:-
On repeated reflux action of the acid, it starts damaging the inner layers of the esophagus and then descends down to the deeper layers causing inflammation and various other symptoms. Such inflammation of the esophagus is called ESOPHAGITIS.
Effect of Acidity on the Throat:-
Here, the stomach acids move upwards to the esophagus and further reach the throat. This is when the acid causes problems in the throat as well. Such a condition is called LARYNGOPHARYNGEAL REFLUX (LPR) or SILENT REFLUX.
Symtoms of LPR in the Throat
1. Sensation of something stuck in the throat, or
A sensation of choking in the throat, or
A sensation of dryness of the throat, or
A sensation of some foreign body stuck in the throat which is neither going down the throat, nor the patient is able to cough it out/spit it out.
2. Congestion/redness of Throat
3. Ulcers in the throat
4. Pain in the throat
5. Difficulty in swallowing
6. Burning sensation in the throat
7. Burning sensation in the chest
8. Roughness in the voice
The further potential complications are:-
The acids moving from the stomach to the esophagus to the throat will damage the cells of the esophagus as well, apart from the throat infection. This leads to shrinking or thinning of Esophagus with unwanted inflammation.
2. Chronic cough
Repeated acidity will give rise to repeated coughing in order to clear the discomfort in the throat caused due to infection.
It refers to difficulty in swallowing.
4. Barrett’s esophagus
It is a condition where the esophagus cells react with the acids and turn into cells that resemble the intestinal cells. Such a change is very severe as it may also cause esophageal cancer.
It is a detailed examination of the inner lining of the throat where the infection has occurred using an endoscope.
An endoscope is a device with a light source attached to it that is administered into the throat to see the development of the infection.
This is another diagnostic method where every small tissue is taken from the infected region and analyzed for the respective disease.
However, it is always recommended to go for expert supervision before jumping to a conclusion, and it is also very important to take the necessary medication at the right time.
Here, the treatment is different for different types of complications led by acid reflux.
Treatment For Sore Throat And Cough Caused Due To Acid Reflux:-
The treatment and prevention can be divided into two categories:-
(I) Eating healthy food
(II) Taking medicines given by the doctor
(I) Eating Healthy Food:-
What do we eat?
At what time do we eat?
How much do we eat? , and
How often do we eat?
These are the things that determine acidity in our bodies. Therefore, having a balanced diet of healthy food is very important.
If anybody is having frequent acidity problems, it means that something is wrong with their eating habits.
Acidity occurs when people eat food that does not suit their bodies.
So, in such cases, it is essential for them to look through what they eat and analyze what kind of food triggers acidity in them, as it might be different for different people.
What do we eat?
Since acidity causes sore throat, avoid food that causes acidity; by this, we can prevent sore throat and cough as well.
Here is the list of some general food items that induce and also increase acidity in our body, hence should be ABSOLUTELY AVOIDED:-
1. Coffee and Tea
3. Lemons, Oranges, and other citric fruits
4. Soda (Aerated) drinks
5. Smoking and tobacco
6. Spicy food
7. Fatty food
At what time do we eat?
We should always eat at the same time every day as a daily routine since the body will get used to it and release acids at that time.
If we tend to delay or skip a meal, it will cause acidity.
How much do we eat?
Eat the right proportions of all nutrients required by the body. This is called a BALANCED DIET.
How often do we eat?
The American Dietetic Association suggests making a schedule and eating small meals every 3 or 4 hours.
Also, avoid lying down immediately after meals instead, sit for 2-3 hours and then lie down.
(II) Taking Medicines:-
Further, severe symptoms of acidity can be cured by taking medicines prescribed by a doctor. Some of these medicines are:-
To neutralize stomach acids. for eg. Gelusil, Mucaine gel, Sucral-O etc.
2. H2 blocker:
Blocks production of acids by the cells of the stomach. for eg. Ranitidine
3. PPI (Proton pump Inhibitors)
It stops or reduces the production of acids in the stomach. They also treat cough caused due to acidity. for eg. Pantoprazole, Rabeprazole, Esmoprazole, etc.
Severe and uncured acidity problems are called for surgery named:-
Here, the LES (valve at the junction of the esophagus) is tightened by rolling the lower part of the stomach around it to make a small incision.
2. TIF (Transoral incisionless fundoplication).
No incision is made. A device called EsophyX is inserted through the mouth to the junction where the esophagus joins the stomach. There it acts as a barrier to acid reflux.
The other types of surgeries are the Stretta procedure, Bard EndoCinch System, and Linx surgery.
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