Acid Reflux: What Obesity has to do with it.

September 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Family & Relationships

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, in the US, found that eight studies indicated that having a high BMI (body mass index ) increased symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease They found that being overweight increased the odds of having Acid Reflux symptoms by 50 percent when compared to having a normal weight. Being obese was  not good news at all.

In 2006, a  Dr. B Jacobson, from Boston University School of Medicine, USA, showed that any excess weight might have a negative effect on digestive health.   A person of normal weight who gained just a bit of weight , still looked fine , and was not obese  could still  become more prone to Acid Reflux Disease. Conversely, if   a   person  suddenly  noticed his/her Acid Reflux symptoms become more severe, losing a few pounds could help alleviate the symptoms

So why does obesity matter?

Imagine layers and layers of excess body fat compressing the stomach, pushing it in, localizing and trapping stomach acids in little natural enclosures in the stomach folds so formed. Then the effects of indiscriminately imbibed food, and resultant hernias.  And we are still not considering the hormonal modifications going on in the body that cause your obesity, and possibly, some problems in most of your body functions, like digestion.

Today, 20 percent of Americans suffer from recurring Acid Reflux disease, or GERD. This Acid Reflux then interferes with eating, sleeping, and daily living.  Obesity, being almost an epidemic in America today further adds to this percentage, and consequently it has been found to put people at risk for complication and certain cancers including cancer of the esophagus.

Obese people tend to have weaker esophageal sphincters, and they more often develop a condition related to Acid Reflux called hiatal hernia, in which the upper part of the stomach protrudes above the diaphragm. Think about that. There is limited space and there is so much, to fit in. No wonder some folds become permanent hernias.

An associated point of concern for obese folks suffering from Acid Reflux is that even if they undergo weight loss surgery, research indicates that, at that point, the Acid Reflux, sometimes, even gets worse.  Currently, there are conflicting opinions about the possibility of treating a bad case of Acid Reflux in an obese individual, through surgery. The Jury is out on that one.

What seems to be very clear is that obesity increases pressure in the abdomen, and causes the contents of the stomach to swish back into the food pipe.  Obesity, indirectly leads to slowing of movement and less exercise, and basically loss of various muscle tones. The Esophageal Sphincter could possibly be among those affected.

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