Acid Reflux Possibly an Immune Issue

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD may be the result of cells of the immune systems causing esophagus inflammation, according to a recent study. It’s long been understood that GERD is a direct result of digestive, acidic juices reaching the esophagus and burning it. However, this new study, conducted by University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers suggests that there may be other causes, as well.

The study involved connecting the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum) to the esophagus in rats to allow bile and stomach acid to reach the esophagus. However, rather than causing immediate inflammation of the esophagus, inflammation didn’t develop until weeks later.

Further, when the study researchers examined the impacted damaged esophagus tissue, they found it loaded with immune cells. The study findings suggested that GERD causes esophageal tissue to release cytokines, or immune chemicals, which induce the development of inflammatory cells. In essence, the heartburn, indigestion, and chest pain associated with GERD is thought to be a result of these inflammatory cells.

Fortunately, today there are effective treatments for indigestion, heartburn, and GERD. Over-the-counter medications can be used to control acid reflux, and medications called H-2 receptor blockers can reduce acid production. Further, proton pump inhibitors are an effective treatment for many to block acid production. That said, if over-the-counter or prescription medications are not effective to treat the problem of GERD, surgery options, such as Nissen Fundoplication, are also available in Albany, and may be necessary.

To prevent or reduce symptoms of GERD, don’t eat within two to three hours of lying down or going to bed. Wear loose fitting clothing that doesn’t constrict your stomach. Since smoking can be a heartburn trigger you should refrain from this as well. Lastly, avoid foods that are known triggers for your heartburn or indigestion.

 

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