Acid Reflux

What is Acid Reflux?

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.

What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?

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

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.

Acid Reflux Causes

Most people have acid reflux due to preventable causes. However, hiatal hernia is one source of acid reflux that is not related to lifestyle choices. If this is the reason for your acid reflux, medical diagnosis is necessary.

Other reasons people may get acid reflux are any of the following:

  • Smoking: this can either be as a result of first or second-hand smoke.
  • Obesity: Obese people have a BMI over 30. Check online for a BMI calculator to see what yours is.
  • Certain medications: Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, blood pressure medications and more can irritate the stomach.
  • Eating large meals.
  • Lying down right after eating.
  • Pregnancy: Some women suffer from heartburn while pregnant but it clears up after the baby is born.
  • Certain foods: Foods that are high in acidity trigger acid reflux. These foods include tomatoes and citrus fruits or drinks. Other food triggers include chocolate, spicy foods, onions, mint, and deep-fried foods.
  • Certain drinks: Coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol all contribute to acid reflux symptoms.

How is Acid Reflux Treated?

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.

Acid Reflux Prevention

So, how can you prevent or manage the painful symptoms of acid reflux?

Here is a list of tips to help you:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. This will take some of the pressure off the stomach.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • You could eliminate all the common food triggers then add back one at a time to see if you can tolerate any of them.
  • Cutting out carbonated drinks, caffeine drinks, and alcohol is necessary. The acid in soda is a big culprit in acid reflux symptoms.
  • Try eating smaller meals more frequently instead of large meals.
  • Wait 3 hours after eating before you go to bed.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your medicines may be causing acid reflux
  • Buy a wedge pillow to help prop up your head at night. This keeps the contents of your stomach from coming up while you sleep.

 

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Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
June 01, 2018
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