Gastro-oesophageal and Pharyngeal Reflux
The stomach produces acid that is corrosive and irritant. It is possible in some situations that the acid can reflux up into the oesophagus and even into the pharynx causing irritant symptoms of indigestion, burning, sore throat, hoarseness, coughing fits or a lump sensation in the throat.
There are things one can do to prevent the production and the reflux of the acid and thereby decrease the symptoms incurred by the patient. It is important to adhere to the advice given to decrease the reflux and its effect.
Over the counter antacids such as Rennies or gelusil or gaviscon a liquid preparation that prevents the acid irritation are available without prescription and can be of help. It is useful to take them before going to sleep but if symptoms are sever then it is useful to take them 30-45 mins before eating meals.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) are often prescribed in this situation by your GP or ENT surgeon. These should be taken as instructed by your doctor and instructions should be meticulously adhered to. PPI’s decrease the production of acid from the stomach and therefore decrease the effects of the acid when it refluxes.
Beware that some medications increase acid production such as anticholinergics, beta blockers, aspirin, theophylline and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Also smoking increases acid production and it’s cessation is beneficial to the treatment reflux.
An increased Body mass index (BMI) above the normal level increases the chances of reflux. In this situation it is beneficial to try to lose weight to reach your target weight for height (BMI).
Acid reflux is not an uncommon symptom at night and is related to the fact that lying down allows for the easier refluxing of acidic contents. Elevating the head end of the bed between 4-10 inches will decrease the chances of reflux whilst not being too high so as to feel like you are sliding off the bed.
Smaller frequent meals are more conducive to avoiding reflux. The avoidance of irritating foods and drinks such as caffeine, chocolate, alcohol should be avoided. Also any specific foods that cause an individual heartburn should be avoided.