Regurgitation occurs when food, liquid or stomach acid makes its way back up from the stomach and into your esophageal canal, sometimes even reaching your mouth. Not only is the sensation uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous in the short- and long-term, potentially causing choking or tissue damage to your esophageal lining. Regurgitation can be caused by a few different issues, which is why it’s important to reach out to a gastrointestinal specialist if you’re dealing with sporadic or frequent regurgitation. Below, we take a closer look at some of the causes and treatment options for regurgitation.
Common Causes Of Regurgitation
Here’s a look at some common reasons why you’re experiencing regurgitation:
- GERD – Also known as gastrointestinal reflux disease, GERD is a condition that involves the movement of stomach acid upwards and into the esophageal canal. You can learn more about the condition on this page, but it tends to occur as a result of a weakening of the esophageal sphincter muscle that connects your esophagus to your stomach. If this muscle can’t seal correctly, stomach contents can make their way back up into the esophagus, which may be why you’re regurgitating. About 80 percent of people with GERD will experience regurgitation.
- Peptic Ulcer – Another common cause of regurgitation is due to the development of a peptic ulcer. These sores in the stomach lining are caused by inflammation, and it can be hard for your body to heal if you’re regularly digesting food. This can lead to regurgitation or discomfort when food enters the stomach cavity. Peptic ulcers typically respond well to treatment, so long as you identify the root cause of their formation.
- Gastric Distention – Gastric distention involves the abnormal enlargement of the stomach cavity, which can lead to a number of symptoms, including regurgitation. Oftentimes it occurs when someone eats or drinks too quickly, as the stomach works quickly to expand to the introduction of this food and drink. Excess stress and certain medications can also lead to gastric distention, but if you can identify the root cause, treatment is usually pretty straight forward.
- Obesity – Being overweight can put increased pressure on your abdomen, which in turn can put more strain on your esophageal sphincter and lead to regurgitation. Pregnant women may also experience regurgitation as their bellies grow with the new baby and more pressure is placed on their stomach cavity. Weight loss or delivering the child tends to help alleviate symptoms.
These are just a few of the common reasons why a person may be experiencing regurgitation, but a diagnosis from a GI specialist will help pinpoint your underlying issue.
As we mentioned above, treatment will vary based on the underlying cause of regurgitation. If it’s something as simple as eating too quickly or being overweight, a few small lifestyle interventions can help. Slowing down when you’re eating, limiting calorie consumption and getting regular exercise can all help to keep regurgitation under control.
If your regurgitation is caused by a different issue, like GERD or a peptic ulcer, the above interventions may be paired with some additional treatments. Your GI specialist can walk you through the specifics of your care, but GERD and peptic ulcers are typically treated by making some dietary adjustments and by taking medications that affect the amount or the potency of the stomach acid that is produced. Many people can reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with GERD or a peptic ulcer by adjusting their diet, taking medications and getting more exercise, but if those methods don’t prove successful, a minimally invasive procedure may help.
Surgery is more common for GERD, but may also be considered in severe or unresolved peptic ulcers. During surgery, the surgeon will work to artificially reinforce the esophageal sphincter or address the stomach sore such that adequate healing can take place. Surgery typically yields great results, but oftentimes treatment doesn’t reach this stage.
If you’re dealing with chronic or infrequent regurgitation, reach out to a GI specialist like Dr. Bhatti. Left untreated, you could be at risk for worsening symptoms or even throat cancer. Stop the problem in its infancy by connecting with Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today at (952) 368-3800.