Causes and Treatment for Acid Reflux
Acid Reflux: How to Identify and Treat the Dreaded Heartburn
More than 60 million Americans report experiencing signs of acid reflux monthly. It is a bane and discomfort to many, but fear not! The more annoying aspects of acid reflux can be lessened with a few key lifestyle changes and with proper diet and exercise.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when gastric acid in the stomach flows back up the esophagus. This regurgitation of stomach acid is due to changes in the lining that separates the stomach from the esophagus. The esophagus — gullet — is not adapted to handle the high acidity of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which makes acid reflux — heartburn — so uncomfortable.
What are the Causes of Acid Reflux?
Signs of acid reflux can be seen in people of all ages; sometimes there is no easily identified cause. However, acid reflux can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle choices.
Risk factors and common causes of acid reflux are:
- Being pregnant
- Having a BMI over 25 or otherwise being considered overweight or obese
- Taking certain medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or certain medications for blood pressure
- Eating late in the day
- Eating foods with a high sodium content or a low amount of fiber
- Carbonated beverages, alcohol, tea or coffee
- Participating in a healthy amount of physical activity
What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
The most common signs of acid reflux are:
- Heartburn: that uncomfortable burning sensation that can occur in the stomach, throat, or chest
- Regurgitation: what happens when stomach acid enters the esophagus. Can be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth
- Dyspepsia: a feeling of intestinal discomfort, such as nausea or bloating
If symptoms persist more than twice a week, acid reflux is usually diagnosed as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What are the Treatments for Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux can be treated with the help of various drugs, such as:
- Antacids: Alka-Seltzer, Rolaids or Tums work to neutralize stomach acid. Be careful though, overuse can lead to constipation or diarrhea
- If acid reflux persists, a doctor can prescribe other medications to alleviate and treat symptoms
Acid reflux can also be alleviated by making some habit and lifestyle changes. This can include:
- Paying attention to proper diet and exercise. If overweight or obese, make an attempt to lose weight
- Avoiding large meals. Eat a smaller amount in more frequent intervals
- Eating earlier in the day
- Quitting smoking