Acid reflux happens when your stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. Your esophagus is the muscular tube that connects your throat and stomach. The most common symptom of acid reflux is a burning sensation in your chest, known as heartburn. Other symptoms may include a sour or regurgitated food taste in the back of your mouth.
Read the full article, by Pritish Kumar Halder, in which he discussed Acid Reflux causes, and treatments.
Acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). If you experience it more than twice a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition to frequent heartburn, symptoms of GERD include difficulty swallowing, coughing or wheezing, and chest pain.
Most people experience acid reflux and heartburn from time to time. GERD is a more serious condition that affects about 20 percent of Americans. Research in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences suggests that rates of GERD are rising.
Risk Factors for Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Anyone can experience occasional acid reflux and heartburn.
For example, you may experience these symptoms after eating too quickly. You may notice them after consuming lots of spicy food or high-fat treats.
You’re more likely to develop GERD if you:
- are overweight or obese
- are pregnant
- have diabetes
Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, may also contribute to some cases of GERD. “People who induce vomiting, or have in the past, can have an increased risk of heartburn,” says Jacqueline L. Wolf, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Occasional or mild cases of acid reflux can usually be prevented by adopting a few lifestyle changes. For example:
- Avoid lying down for three hours after a meal.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid pressure on your abdomen.
- Lose excess weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Raise the head of your bed six to eight inches by placing wooden blocks under your bedposts. Bed risers are another option for doing this.
Several types of food can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Pay close attention to how you feel after eating different foods. Your triggers may include:
- fatty or fried foods
- carbonated beverages, such as soda
- citrus fruits
- tomato sauce
Many people can resolve their symptoms through lifestyle changes. Other people may require medications to prevent or treat acid reflux and heartburn. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications, such as:
- antacids, such as calcium carbonate (Tums)
- H2-receptor blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid AC) or cimetidine (Tagamet HB)
- mucosal protectants, such as sucralfate (Carafate)
- proton pump inhibitors, such as rabeprazole (Aciphex), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), and esomeprazole (Nexium)
A Note About Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors are the most effective treatments for chronic acid reflux.
They’re generally considered very safe. They reduce your body’s production of gastric acids. Unlike some other medications, you only need to take them once a day to prevent symptoms.
There are also downsides to using proton pump inhibitors on a long-term basis. Over time, they can deplete vitamin B-12 in your body. Since stomach acid is one of your body’s defenses against infection, proton pump inhibitors can also raise your risk of infection and bone fractures. In particular, they can raise your risk of hip, spine, and wrist fractures. They can also be expensive, often costing more than $100 each month.
Surgery is only necessary in rare cases of acid reflux and heartburn. The most common surgery used to treat acid reflux is a procedure known as Nissen fundoplication. In this procedure, a surgeon lifts a portion of your stomach and tightens it around the junction where your stomach and esophagus meet. This helps increase pressure in your lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
This procedure is performed with a laparoscope. You will need to stay in the hospital for one to three days after it’s performed. Complications are rare and the results are extremely effective. However, surgery may lead to increased bloating and flatulence or trouble swallowing.
10 home remedies for heartburn
If you’re trying to avoid acid reflux or get rid of heartburn fast, here are ten ways to ease — and even prevent — your symptoms:
1. Eat a ripe banana
The high potassium content of a banana makes it a fairly alkaline food. And, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, this means it may help counteract the stomach acid irritating your esophagus.
However, unripe bananas are less alkaline, starch-heavy and may actually be an acid reflux trigger for some people. So be sure to choose a banana that’s ripe.
Other alkaline foods that may help offset heartburn include melons, cauliflower, fennel and nuts.
2. Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing gum increases saliva production. According to one study, this works to help reduce heartburn since saliva can help promote swallowing — which can help keep acid down — and neutralize the stomach acid that’s refluxed into your esophagus.
3. Keep a food journal and avoid trigger foods
As mentioned, certain foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux and heartburn. You can help identify the specific foods most likely to give you issues by keeping a food and symptom log. Once you do identify them, avoid these foods and drinks whenever possible.
4. Resist the urge to overeat or eat quickly
When it comes to preventing heartburn, watching portion sizes at meals can go a long way. Having a large amount of food in your stomach may put more pressure on the valve that keeps stomach acid out of your esophagus, making acid reflux and heartburn more likely. If you’re prone to heartburn, consider eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating quickly can also be a trigger of heartburn so be sure to slow down and take time to chew food and drink beverages.
5. Avoid late meals, snacking before bed and eating before exercising
Laying down with a stomach full of food can trigger acid reflux and make heartburn symptoms worse. Avoid eating within 3 hours of your bedtime so your stomach has plenty of time to empty. You may also want to wait at least two hours before exercising.
6. Wear loose-fitting clothing
If you’re prone to heartburn, tight-fitting belts and clothing that squeeze your belly may be contributing to your symptoms.
7. Adjust your sleep position
Elevating your head and chest higher than your feet as you sleep can help
prevent and ease acid reflux and heartburn. You can do this using a foam wedge placed under the mattress or by raising bedposts using wood blocks. Beware of piling pillows, as this usually isn’t effective and may even make your symptoms worse. Additionally, sleeping on your left side is thought to aid digestion and may work to limit stomach acid reflux.
8. Take steps to lose weight if you are overweight
Excess weight puts extra pressure on your stomach, increasing your risk of acid reflux and heartburn. Eating a well-balanced diet and getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week are the first two steps to maintaining a healthy weight and losing excess weight.
9. Stop smoking if you smoke
Smoking reduces the amount of saliva produced and impacts the
effectiveness of the valve that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus, both of which make heartburn more likely. Quitting smoking can reduce the frequency and severity of acid reflux and, in some cases, even eliminate it.
10. Reduce stress
Chronic stress takes a physical toll on your body, including slowing digestion and making you more sensitive to pain. The longer food sits in your stomach, the more likely stomach acid is to reflux. Additionally, having an increased sensitivity to pain can make you feel the burning pain of heartburn more intensely. Taking steps to reduce stress may help prevent or ease the effects of acid reflux and heartburn.
If you experience regular acid reflux or heartburn, speak to your doctor. They may recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent your symptoms. For example, they may advise you to eat smaller meals, remain upright after eating, or cut certain foods from your diet. They may also encourage you to lose weight or quit smoking.
If lifestyle changes don’t relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications. In rare cases, you may need surgery. Complications from the surgery are rare.