Acid reflux is a condition of the gastrointestinal tract and esophagus. It occurs when gastric juices or stomach acids back up into a person’s esophagus. This condition may be a part of acid reflux disease, also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux can also be referred to as heartburn.
Acid reflux is an extremely common condition. Anybody can suffer from acid reflux. However, it becomes more common as a person ages and is a common symptom that occurs during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese may also increase a person’s risk of suffering from acid reflex. Overeating, or eating fatty, spicy, or fried foods can also sometimes trigger a person to suffer from acid reflux.
When a person suffers from this condition, it is because stomach acid contacts the inner lining of the esophagus for a prolonged period of time. This can occur because the end of the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, does not properly close off after food passes through the esophagus into the stomach. When that bottom part of the esophagus is not properly sealed, stomach acid can more easily travel up into the esophagus.
Acid reflux symptoms occur most often when a person is lying down or bending over. The most common symptom of the condition is a burning pain in the chest. The severity of that burning sensation or pain can vary a great deal from minor to extremely uncomfortable. Some people also experience a sour taste in their mouth or in the back of their throat when they have acid reflux. The taste may also be bitter.
Other symptoms of acid reflux include difficulty swallowing, a feeling of food or liquid backing up in the esophagus and throat, sore throat, indigestion, a dry cough, nausea, burping, and hiccups.
Acute cases of acid reflux often clear up on their own without the need for treatment. Over-the-counter antacids can also help to reduce discomfort.
It can also help to avoid eating within two to three hours of going to bed. Acid reflux that is chronic and related to GERD or other conditions may require prescription medications to be manageable. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary.