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Reflux Esophagitis

What is it? Reflux esophagitis (e-sof-uh-ji-tis) happens when stomach acid flows back into the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This tube is called the esophagus (e-sof-uh-gus). Acid irritates the esophagus and may cause you to have heartburn. Heartburn may get better with treatment, but it may return.

Causes: Heartburn is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. This happens because the muscles at the top of the stomach have gotten weak. Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. You may have heartburn if you weigh too much, are pregnant, smoke, or drink too much alcohol. Eating too much may cause heartburn. Some medicines or coughing too hard may also cause heartburn.

Signs and Symptoms: You may feel burning in your chest, usually at night. Heartburn is most common when you are lying down. Other signs may be burping. You may have a sour or acid taste in your mouth. Or you may have a sore throat. The stomach acid may bother your esophagus or cause other problems, such as ulcers. Sometimes reflux can cause asthma.

Care: You may need medicine for your heartburn. It may help to raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches on blocks. Check with your caregiver before taking any medicine if you are pregnant.

Do's and Don'ts: Do eat small meals slowly. Do not bend over or lie down after eating. Lose weight if you are overweight. You should drink more fluids, such as water or juices. But you should not drink alcohol or drinks that have caffeine (coffee, tea, cocoa, cola drinks). Do not wear tight clothes around your chest and stomach.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about reflux esophagitis and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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