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Gastroesophageal reflux causes a burning sensation in the lower part of the oesophagus (the duct that transports food from the mouth to the stomach). Reflux occurs when gastric fluids (gastric acid and digestive enzymes) go back up in the oesophagus.
The role of the muscle (sphincter) that separates the oesophagus from the stomach is to keep the stomach's fluids from going back up the oesophagus. When this sphincter becomes relaxed, gastric secretions are able to go back up the oesophagus. While the stomach has a mucosal barrier designed to resist acid secretion, the oesophageal mucosa is more fragile and becomes easily irritated by contact with these secretions.
Symptoms may include:
Certain medical conditions, such as pregnancy or hiatus hernia, make it easier for reflux to occur because they induce additional pressure on the stomach. Other elements can also cause or increase reflux such as stress or anxiety, as well as taking drugs that delay stomach emptying or that decrease the tonus of the lower oesophageal sphincter. Thus, they induce the return of food to the oesophagus. Also, other drugs may promote or aggravate reflux by irritating the oesophagus, such as anti-inflammatory drugs (eg.: ibuprofen). Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you take drugs or herbal products.
Certain foods of lifestyle habits may also cause or worsen gastroesophageal reflux.
Foods to avoid:
Lifestyle habits to modify:
There different drugs used to treat reflux problems:
Antacids and certain other drugs are available without a prescription, but other more potent drugs require medical supervision.
Each treatment should be tailored to the patient's needs, especially since there are numerous causes of reflux and people often react differently to medication. To maximize your treatment's efficacy, drugs should be taken in a specific manner and at specific times, even those available without a prescription. Do not hesitate to seek advice from your pharmacist: he is the most knowledgeable health professional when it comes to medication.
For more information:
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.