Can Parasite Cause Acid Reflux?

First of all, it is important to better define what is exactly acid reflux. In fact, the real medical term for this condition is the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition mainly occurs when the sphincter localised between the oesophagus and the stomach is not functioning well and allows the gastric content to come in contact with the lower oesophagus. As the gastric content is very acidic, this condition usually causes a burning pain in the lower oesophagus. This pain is also commonly known as heartburn. As an explanation of this symptom, it is interesting to mention that the stomach lining protects it efficiently from the effects of the gastric acid. However, the oesophagus lining does not have this type of protection and is altered by the contact with stomach acid, causing the burning pain. It is interesting to note that GERD is very frequent. It is estimated that 10 to 20% of adults suffer from it. Furthermore, newborns still having an immature gastrointestinal track and pregnant women are also more at risk of having transient GERD.

The causes of GERD are well known. In fact, this condition can be caused by a purely physical problem that impairs the good adjustment of the sphincter leaving it a little bit opened. Many drugs used to treat different diseases or conditions can also cause transient GERD that usually resolves by itself when the person does not take the drug anymore. Finally, lifestyle is considered as a major cause of reflux. Risk factors include the ingestion of fatty foods, caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol, as well as smoking and having too much weight.

I am aware that it is possible to find many sites and testimonials on the Internet putting in relation GERD and many parasitic diseases. This common belief is probably derived from the fact that parasites are susceptible to cause a lot of different gastrointestinal symptoms. However, the actual links between GERD and parasites had not been proven by scientific studies yet, meaning that parasites are not considered as a cause of acid reflux at this moment. It is still possible that a link between parasites and GERD might be found and proven scientifically in the future. In fact, more research on the subject might be needed in the future, as studies of the possible involvement of parasites in GERD are lacking in the scientific literature.

The treatment of GERD is usually simple and includes major changes in the lifestyle in order to avoid the risk factors mentioned earlier. Furthermore, some medications to control the reflux can be taken in some cases. Sleeping in a bed where the head is elevated can also help to reduce acid reflux. Finally, in severe cases where nothing helps to reduce or solve the problem, surgery is also possible.

Source: Merck Manual

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