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Gastrointestinal Reflux as Dysautonomia
Within the esophagus and gastrointestinal system there are actually four different types of reflux, each associated with four different valves (sphincters) in the digestive system. All four valves (sphincters) in the digestive system are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, so dysfunction of these valves can be a form of dysautonomia. It is apparently common to have multiple types of reflux at the same time.
What does this mean for eating and digestive problems in ME/cfs?
- Gastro-esophageal reflux is when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close, allowing the contents of the stomach, such as acidic enzymes, to flow back up into the esophagus. This often results in heartburn.
- Laryngo-pharyngeal reflux is when the upper esophageal sphincter fails to close, allowing contents in the esophagus to flow back up into the back of the throat and then down into the lungs. This often results in coughing fits and a feeling of "nasal drip" on the back of the throat.
- Duodeno-gastric reflux is when the pyloric sphincter fails to close, allowing contents in the small intestine, such as bile, to flow back up into the stomach and allowing stomach acid to continuously leak into the duodenum. Symptoms may include pain, nausea or vomiting. Vomit may have the dark brown color of bile. One patient describes it here: https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...y-disorder-duodenum-and-gaping-pylorus.79344/
- Ileo-cecal reflux is when the ileocecal sphincter fails to close, allowing food and bacteria in the large intestine to flow backwards into the small intestine. Although it is normal to have bacteria in the large intestine, bacteria are mostly absent from the small intestine.