Ever heard of GERD? No? Well maybe you’ve heard of the scientific term…Gastroesophageal reflux disease?
60% of the adult population experience some type of GERD within a 12-month period and 20-30% have weekly symptoms…And it doesn’t stop there. Would you believe that approximately 7 million Americans will experience symptoms of GERD in their lifetime?
Symptoms of GERD:
- A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to your throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Dry cough.
- Hoarseness or sore throat.
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
- Sensation of a lump in your throat.
In severe cases, it can lead to bleeding ulcers in the esophagus and it can be associated with a dangerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter, the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD.
It has been assumed, for over 80 years, that stomach acid backing up through the esophagus damages the lining of the esophagus by causing chemical burns. New research suggests that the damage in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease actually occurs through an inflammatory response provoked by the secretion of proteins called cytokines.
Dr. Stuart Spechler, professor of Internal Medicine at UT southwestern and chief of the departments of gastroenterology at the Dallas VA medical center says, “Although this radical change in the concept of how acid reflux damages the esophagus of GERD patients will not change our approach to its treatment with acid-suppressing medications in the near future, it could have substantial long-term implications.”
It basically means that someday we might be able to avoid treatments that cause damage to the esophagus and instead use treatments that target cytokines or inflammatory cells.
The research looked at patients who had been successfully treated by current GERD medications called proton pump inhibitors. (PPI’s)
The researchers thought that GERD might redevelop if someone stopped taking their PPIs. In 11 of 12 patients changes to the esophagus reoccurred after the PPIs were stopped. The most important finding is that the changes that re-occurred were not consistent with chemical burns. Rather, the findings supported the new idea that refluxed stomach acid stimulated the esophagus to make small proteins called cytokines, which then set up the process of inflammation.
The study challenges some of the long-held beliefs about how gastroesophageal reflux damaged the esophageal mucosa in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. “It is important for physicians to have an accurate understanding of the mechanisms underlying the diseases that we treat, especially one as common as GERD,” says Dr. Spechler. “Furthermore, our study should open up new avenues for novel GERD treatments.”
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Source: Healthy Holistic Living