Reflux Due To An Immune Response?
The newest buzz is that researchers have found that it is possible that GERD is due to an immune response more so than the acid itself. Two researchers, Spechler and Souza, found that the acid causes the cells in the esophagus to release chemicals which attract cells that cause inflammation to the esophagus and that these cells then cause the damage which then causes the pain.
How did they find this?
They took rats and connected their small intestines to their esophaguses. This allowed stomach acid and bile to get into the esophagus and cause reflux. The researchers expected that the inflammation would happen immediately since the acid is so strong but it took a few weeks. But, Spechler and Souza, did find inflammatory cells deep in the tissues within the first few days. These inflammatory cells took a few weeks to then rise to the surface.
So, what does this mean for you and me?
Nothing right now. It is an animal study. The rats were physically altered to cause a situation similar to reflux. In the future, this might mean new ways to treat reflux working with the immune response rather than decreasing the acid but for now we have to stick with acid reducers such as H2 blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors or with surgery. This study is more of a beginning thought and will require a lot more research before new treatments are made available