The lower esophageal sphincter or the LES is the valve or the ring of muscle located near the entrance to the stomach. Once the food passes through esophagus and into the stomach, the LES closes immediately. However, in case the LES reopens frequently or fails to close completely, the acid from the stomach will flow back into the esophagus, thus leading to a condition known as heartburn. In case the condition occurs more than twice a week, then it can be considered as acid reflux disease or GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Lots of people are still unaware of the causes of the condition. Take note that one of the most common causes of acid reflux disease is stomach abnormality or hiatal hernia. This usually occurs after the LES and the stomach move right above the diaphragm, which is a muscle that separates the stomach and the chest. As the diaphragm functions by keeping the acid within the stomach, hiatal hernia causes the acid to move back up to the esophagus, thus resulting to the disease.
Aside from a hiatal hernia, other factors can increase the risk of an individual to acid reflux disease. Among the risk factors are the following:
- Eating meals or snacks before hitting the sack
- Being overweight or obesity
- People who usually eat and lie down immediately
- Pregnancy and cigarette smoking
- Excessive consumption of tea, carbonated drinks, coffee and alcoholic beverages
- Consumption of heavy meals then bending from the waist or lying on the back
- Individuals who consume aspirin, medications for blood pressure, ibuprofen or other muscle relaxants
- Eating tomato, chocolate, mint, onion, citrus fruits, garlic and fatty foods
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
In women, the symptoms of acid reflux are very common, since women are usually the first ones to go through it, especially during the course of pregnancy. Nearly 20% of all women often complain about indigestion during the first trimester of pregnancy, 40% on the second trimester and approximately 70% on the third trimester. Pressure in the stomach and changes in the level of hormones are some of the common causes of acid reflux disease during pregnancy. For some, the condition will go away after giving birth.
These are the common indications of the condition for pregnant women. For those who are not pregnant, the symptoms may vary in each individual. However, the most prevalent symptoms and the symptoms that you have to be well aware of include the following:
- Feeling of regurgitation – this is when an individual gets a bitter or sour-tasting acid in the mouth or throat.
- Dysphagia – the condition where the esophagus narrows down, thus making an individual feel like food is stuck in the throat.
- Burping, feeling bloated, hiccups that will not stop and nausea.
- Black stools, blood in stools or vomit.
- Losing weight without any apparent reason
- Chronic sore throat, wheezing and dry cough
Medication for Acid Reflux
Antacids are known as the most popular acid reflux treatment and almost all types of antacids can be purchased even without prescription. This type of medication can help neutralize the acid in the stomach and provide quick relief against the condition. This can be consumed in the form of liquid syrup or tablets. Antacids also contain certain elements that can coat the sensitive lining of the esophagus and treat irritation.
The remedies for acid reflux in babies, on the other hand, usually include acid blockers and antacids. H2 receptor blockers are helpful in blocking excessive production of stomach acid. Although this does not provide relief as quickly as antacids, it was said that H2 blockers are more effective. Another option is PPIs or proton pump inhibitors; however, this can only be used when prescribed by the doctor. Aside from that, PPIs are usually used for severe cases of the condition only.
In order to avoid acid reflux disease in the first place, you should try losing some weight, especially if you are obese, and follow an acid reflux diet. Most of the time, the condition is considered self-inflicted and this is due to the individual’s lifestyle and food choices. You can also follow an acid reflux diet in case you are already afflicted with the condition. Trying to calm yourself and preventing any home or work-related stress is also helpful.
For your regular exercises, you can include yoga or meditation exercises to help manage stress and prevent the condition. Take note that too much stress can upset the stomach and this may lead to the development of acid reflux disease. There are natural acid reflux remedies that you can also resort to; however, it is necessary to consult your physician first before opting for these remedies. You can also check the internet for various recipes that can help you deal with the condition.