Acid reflux is a very common type of gastrointestinal problem wherein the stomach acids come up to the esophagus and it can hit you more often after eating foods that are tough to digest or trigger acidity.
What causes acid reflux?
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle present at the mouth of your stomach closes after food reaches the stomach. If the LES fails to close properly or relaxes abnormally or it is weak then the stomach acids will travel upwards to trigger an acid reflux.
Common conditions that cause acid reflux are:
- Eating large portions of meals
- Going to bed immediately after eating
- Too much consumption of acid causing foods like spices, citrus foods, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, etc.
- Obesity and diabetes
- Lack of physical activity
- Smoking and alcoholism
- Side effect of NSAIDs and blood pressure medicines
- Hiatal hernia- abnormal bulging of stomach into the diaphragm
- Acid reflux occurs way too often in pregnancy due to the pressure exerted by the womb on the stomach
Symptoms associated with acid reflux
Acid reflux is characterized by:
- Heartburn- burning pain in and around chest
- Tightness in chest
- Sour taste in mouth due to regurgitation of the acids
- Boating in stomach along with pain
- Belching, burping and indigestion
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Nausea, dizziness and general discomfort in body
When to see a doctor?
You must see a doctor if you need to take medicines more than twice a week to manage the symptoms or if the medicines are not working at all and you are having acid reflux very frequently over the week.
Complications of acid reflux
Acid reflux if not managed might become chronic- then it is known as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). Some untreated cases lead to ulcers and strictures in the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus which is a precancerous condition.
Diagnosis of acid reflux
Your doctor will evaluate the symptoms and check the frequency and severity of acid reflux. You will be asked questions regarding your diet and exercise. Let your doctor know if you have medical history of asthma, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Diagnostic tests for chronic acid reflux are:
- Endoscopy of the esophagus which might be followed by biopsy
- Manometry test to evaluate the movement and pressure of the esophagus
- Diagnostic test to check acidity inside the esophagus
- X ray of the gastrointestinal tract and chest
Apart from these, your vital signs like blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate will also be monitored.
Treatment of acid reflux
Your doctor will prescribe you a certain dosage of medications depending upon the test reports. Drugs for managing acid reflux are antacids, proton pump inhibitors, acid blockers and LES fortifiers.
Surgery will be required only your conditions cannot be managed with medicines or your LES is absolutely problematic. Under such circumstances your doctor might consider tighten or strengthening the LES with invasive procedures.
Home remedies for acid reflux
Acid reflux can be very well managed by modifying diet and lifestyle
- Wait for at least 1-2 hours after eating meals and hitting on bed. Walk around at home itself for 10-15 minutes post meals to prevent acidity
- Eat small meals at an interval of 3-4 hours. Make sure you have your dinner at the earliest
- Avoid acid causing foods as much as possible. Cut down on caffeinated beverages. Instead you can have green tea
- Exercise everyday for half an hour at least. You can try yoga techniques that particularly improve digestion
Written by: healthplus24.com
Date last updated: Novemeber 03, 2014