The Damage of Reflux (Bile, Not Acid)

June 30, 2009
By JANE E. BRODY
New York Times

In describing an instance of intense anger, you might say, as a figure of speech, that bile rose in your throat. But for some people bile does indeed rise, perhaps not as far as the throat but far enough to cause digestive distress and serious damage to the lining of the stomach and esophagus.

The symptoms are similar to heartburn, and many sufferers are told they have gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as acid reflux. Yet treatment with popular remedies for acid reflux, like the acid-suppressing proton-pump inhibitors Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, fails to work or gives only partial relief.

That’s because acid reflux is, at most, only part of the problem. The main culprit is bile reflux, a back-up of digestive fluid that is supposed to remain in the small intestine, where it aids the digestion of fats. More…

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