Reflux Disease

By | June 8, 2022

Reflux disease is manifested by heartburn. Patients suffer from acid regurgitation, dry cough, hoarseness and intense burning behind the breastbone. This disease is widespread and must be treated to prevent consequential damage.

What is reflux disease?

Doctors speak of reflux disease when the lining of the esophagus is inflamed. Stomach contents and acidic gastric juice flow into the esophagus because the gastric sphincter fails and does not prevent reflux. For meanings of metabolic alkalosis, please visit

The lower third of the esophagus is inflamed because of the irritation from the acid. If reflux disease becomes chronic, there is a risk of complications such as esophageal cancer.

Reflux disease is a typical disease in industrialized countries. About 20 percent suffer from recurring heartburn. Children and infants can also suffer from reflux disease. The incidence is increasing, as is esophageal cancer increasing at the same rate. This is a rare consequence of reflux disease.


Reflux disease is triggered when the sphincter muscle at the entrance to the stomach fails. Stomach contents and stomach acid can flow back into the lower part of the esophagus. There are several factors that cause reflux disease.

These include a sphincter that is too weak, too much passage of the esophagus through the diaphragm, other anatomical deviations that prevent the upper stomach closure.

The risk of developing reflux disease is increased by nicotine, alcohol, obesity and certain medications. Some patients get heartburn when they are under stress.

Heartburn is particularly common during pregnancy. This is because the growing baby puts pressure on the stomach. In the last trimester of pregnancy, a good half of women suffer from reflux disease.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Heartburn, chest pain (retrosternal pain) and regurgitation, a reflux of contents from hollow organs, are typical of reflux disease . In this case, the reflux of chyme from the stomach into the mouth. In reflux disease, these symptoms are exacerbated by eating, lying down, consuming alcohol, smoking, bending over, or physical and mental stress.

Chest pain is localized behind the breastbone (sternum) and is often confused with heart pain. It is a burning, very uncomfortable pain that worsens after eating. Upper abdominal pain (epigastric pain), belching of air or gastric juice, and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia, odynophagia) are also common symptoms.

Reflux disease also shows up occasionally in atypical symptoms, such as the compulsion to clear your throat, chronic coughing, a lump in your throat (globus sensation), hoarseness, recurring pneumonia, bad breath (halitosis), a persistent dry feeling that does not go away even with drinking improved or a penetrating, never-ending hiccup.

Acid regurgitation and regurgitation result in damage to the tooth enamel as a secondary damage. Reflux disease can also occur in infancy. This shows up problems with the feeding of the infants and there is more crying and restlessness. In some cases, the infant stretches his head backwards.

Diagnosis & History

The doctor can initially diagnose reflux disease based on the symptoms. This is done using the anamnesis interview, in which information about the type, frequency and lifestyle are important. Other diseases that show similar symptoms must be ruled out for now.

A reliable diagnostic method is gastroscopy. This is carried out particularly in the case of chronic reflux disease in order to identify any malignant changes in the mucous membrane. This esophago-gastroscopy can not only be used to detect changes in the mucous membrane. Tissue samples can also be taken in the same step.

A capsule may also be placed in the esophagus during the gastroscopy to measure acidity over a 24-hour period. Here physicians speak of a long-term pH measurement. The concentration of the acid is measured and the data is immediately transmitted to a recorder.


With reflux disease, there is a risk of complications occurring as the disease progresses. These include esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). It is caused by constant contact with acid, which leads to changes in the mucous membrane. This can cause inflammation of the mucous membrane, which also swells. Basically, esophagitis is one of the typical sequelae of reflux disease.

The teeth can also be affected by the disease, which is due to the reflux of acidic stomach contents. Lesions of the tooth enamel become noticeable through pain-sensitive teeth, caries, periodontitis and inflammation of the oral cavity.

Another effect of reflux disease is narrowing of the esophagus. The cavity of the esophagus is narrowed by inflammatory strictures or scars caused by reflux. This consequence becomes noticeable through disturbances of the swallowing reflex and pain.

Because the influence of gastric acid is permanent, there is a risk of chemical burns in the gastric mucosa. As a result, the esophagus contracts due to the formation of scars, which in turn leads to a pronounced narrowing. Doctors then speak of a peptic stricture.

Another complication of reflux disease is the formation of ulcers in the lining of the esophagus. In most cases, they settle in the lower esophageal region, which is at the transition to the stomach. Bleeding, which can be both acute and chronic, is a possible consequence of the ulcers.

When should you go to the doctor?

Severe heartburn often occurs after eating greasy and spicy food. Affected people have an unpleasant feeling in the mouth or a strong burning sensation. Heartburn is not a medical condition that needs to be treated by a doctor. If heartburn occurs several times a week for no apparent reason, such as pregnancy, you should speak to your family doctor. The contents of the stomach flow back again because greasy food increases the pressure in the stomach. A doctor can pinpoint the exact cause of food reflux and prescribe appropriate medication.

Treatment & Therapy

The acid can be inhibited by drug treatment of reflux disease . Antacids, hydrotalcite and magaldrate neutralize or bind gastric acid. The funds are available as tablets, gel, coated tablets and suspensions. They are usually taken when the symptoms appear. For example, at night or after eating. Antacids are also suitable for pregnant women.

H2 antihistamines inhibit the formation of gastric acid. These H2-receptor blockers are usually taken at night and are available over the counter. Proton pump inhibitors require a prescription. They are used for very severe symptoms and block the formation of an enzyme that is responsible for acid formation. The symptoms disappear within two weeks. However, there is still a risk of cancer.

If the reflux disease causes nausea and vomiting, prokinetics are also used. They stimulate the stomach and intestines movement and thus ensure a faster removal of gastric acid.

Chronic reflux disease can be treated surgically if drug treatment is unsuccessful. This operation is performed as a minimally invasive procedure. The locking mechanism of the sphincter is restored. Gastric acid can then no longer flow back.

Rusks, yoghurt, milk and almonds have proved their worth as home remedies for occasional complaints.


Those who are prone to heartburn should avoid greasy and lavish meals. Especially in the evening, the stomach should not be burdened with large portions. Eating a high-fiber diet also helps. Coffee, alcohol and nicotine promote reflux disease and should therefore only be enjoyed in very small quantities. Stress and excitement should be avoided. If you are overweight, try to lose weight.


Diet can reduce acid production in the stomach. Here it is advisable to consume a low-fat and base-rich diet. Bread and oatmeal can keep occasional heartburn to a minimum. Anyone who is overweight should also reduce their body weight, or at least normalize it.

Various drugs affect the lower esophageal sphincter and thus promote gastroesophageal reflux. For this reason, the current medication should be critically reviewed and even replaced if necessary. Various measures can counteract potential reflux: These include not eating large meals just before going to bed, as well as raising the headboard when sleeping.

In general, you should make sure you get enough sleep. A severe lack of sleep can lead to the mucous membrane of the esophagus becoming more sensitive to the acidic gastric juice. There is no question that reflux disease can usually be treated well. In about 90 percent of cases, reflux oesophagitis can heal after PPI therapy.

When therapy is discontinued, however, recurrences occur in about 50 percent of patients. If left untreated, complications can occur in some cases, some of which can be very serious. Anyone who temporarily takes medication against reflux and consciously changes their diet will most likely prevent permanent esophagitis.

You can do that yourself

People who are affected by reflux disease have a number of options to make everyday life with this disease easier.

Affected persons should pay close attention to their diet. Acidic and heavy foods should be avoided. Because the more spicy or acidic foods are consumed, the more acid is produced in the body. However, this process is counterproductive in the case of reflux disease. If the affected person wants to counteract the disease, they should attach importance to mild foods. Fast-digesting foods such as white bread, cooked vegetables or rice are also ideal for this disease. When it comes to drinks, patients should pay attention to low-carbonated drinks. The carbonic acid stimulates acid production in the body. Still water or mild fruit juices are more suitable.

If help is needed in putting together the diet, a trained nutritionist can be consulted at any time. In addition to the basic nutrition, certain over-the-counter medications such as stomach gels or acid blockers can be taken. This method can also be discussed with the responsible doctor at any time. If these tips are followed, an improvement will be felt quickly and the symptoms will be alleviated.

Reflux Disease