by Daniel Y. Go
The refluxed fluid from the stomach coming in contact with the esophagus causes heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest and throat. When we have an acidic feeling in the throat, we call it acid indigestion. Heartburn is common and its occasional incidence does not indicate any chronic condition. But when it occurs with a frequency of more than two times a week, it can be considered as chronic acid reflux with potentially serious consequences for health if left untreated. Not only adults but also infants and children can be victims of chronic acid reflux.
Although continued heartburn and acid regurgitation is the main symptom of chronic acid reflux disease, some patients instead of heartburn experience other symptoms like chest pain, hoarse throat especially at the beginning of the day and swallowing difficulties. There is also a feeling of stuck food in the throat and choking. Other accompanying symptoms of chronic acid reflux may be cough, dry mouth and halitosis.
Children often suffer from cough, respiratory disorders and vomiting due to irregular digestion caused by chronic acid reflux. While most infants recover from the symptoms, pediatric advice is necessary where the symptoms and the associated discomfort persist. For infants, the doctors usually advise such strategies as burping them during feeding or keeping them upright for sometime after feeding. For older children, the advice is to keep their heads raised during sleeping and putting them to sleep at least 2 hours after food. Fried, spicy and fatty foods as also any food that causes acidity are to be avoided.
Opinion of a gastroenterologist should be sought for treating chronic acid reflux. Depending on the seriousness of the disease, mode of treatment may vary from lifestyle changes to medication or even surgery where warranted. Lifestyle changes include eating food in small servings and avoiding cigarette and alcohol. Medications can be through over-the-counter antacids or prescribed drugs.
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