Have you ever experienced a burning pain just below your breastbone after eating? Sometimes it spreads through the chest just when you are relaxing right after a hearty meal. Perhaps you are one of those who always experience hoarseness and throat discomfort. You could probably be suffering from indigestion all the time. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, chances are, you are suffering from acid reflux.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is often referred to as heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). These three terms are often used interchangeably because they exhibit similar symptoms. Actually, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that closes the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, weakens. When it does not close properly, stomach acids can move out and up towards the esophagus. The delicate lining of the esophagus easily gets irritated thereby causing the burning sensation in the chest area. Acid reflux is a mild condition, often non-threatening. However, if it occurs more than twice a week for prolonged periods, it is categorized as GERD.
What Triggers an Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux can be caused by eating fatty foods, drinking beverages with caffeine or alcohol, smoking or lying down after a meal. Salty foods were also found to trigger acid reflux. Another cause of acid reflux is weight and obesity. Once a person is overweight, it can push stomach acids right up into the gullet. Pregnancy can also trigger acid reflux due to the pressure of the growing fetus plus the surge in hormones. Some medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin can also cause acid reflux.
Treatment and Management of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is usually treated with over the counter medications that help neutralize your stomach acids. If symptoms persist despite taking antacids, then your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.
Acid reflux can persist throughout life; therefore, lifestyle changes are important in the management of acid reflux. One of the things sufferers should note down is the list of foods that they should avoid. Limit fatty and fried foods. Stay away from acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and salad dressing with vinegar. Avoid beverages such as coffee, carbonated drinks, colas, tea and alcoholic beverages.
Avoid eating too much in one meal. Slow down when eating and avoid gulping large amounts of food in a short time. Also avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime. This will ensure that the food that you ate is already well digested before you go into a lying position. Make sure that your head is higher than your feet when sleeping.
If you are a smoker and a chronic drinker, limit them or avoid them altogether. Wear loose fitting clothes. Lose some extra pounds if you are obese or overweight. For those who experience heartburn after exercising, make sure that you do not eat at least two hours before your workout. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
If all these management options do not work for you, then it’s time to talk to your doctor or surgeon to discuss surgery options.
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