What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a common problem, yet still often goes undiagnosed. Some symptoms are often mistaken for something else, however getting a diagnosis is vital to aid treatment. It can also be known as heartburn, indigestion or pyrosis.
Why does Acid Reflux Occur?
Our stomach contains hydrochloric acid to help with food digestion and to protect our gut from bacteria. Acid reflux occurs when a ring of muscle in our diaphragm stops successfully acting as a valve, therefore no longer keeping this acid in our stomach. The acid can then travel up into your chest causing an uncomfortable and painful burning sensation. It is common for symptoms to occur after eating, with some certain foods causing more pain than others. If you find you are suffering from acid reflux more than twice per week, this is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What Else Can Cause Acid Reflux?
Obesity, smoking and an unhealthy diet increase your risk of suffering from acid reflux, and if left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux can have serious complications, including cancer. Sadly, acid reflux is becoming more common, perhaps due to increasing obesity and lifestyle factors. Acid reflux can, however, still occur due to causes that cannot be prevented, including hernias, pregnancy, medications and diet.
Whether you experience heartburn very occasionally or more persistently, the discomfort can last for several hours. This burning pain can sometimes be confused for a heart attack in some cases. Often it worsens after eating food.
What Should You Do About Acid Reflux?
It is recommended that you visit your family GP if you experience frequent acid reflux symptoms. Doctors can prescribe some over the counter medicines that should hopefully help to control the symptoms, alongside recommending some lifestyle changes to prevent future bouts. Lifestyle changes would include eating smaller meals, allowing your food to digest before laying or lounging so avoid laying down for two to three hours after a meal, stop smoking, avoid food, drinks and medicines which seem to worsen symptoms, lose weight if required and avoid pressure on your abdomen: no tight clothing or sit-up style exercises.
The most common prescription medication is proton-pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid produced. The result, therefore is reduced damage from the acid reflux, and reduced discomfort. Antacids are also medicinal options, where prescriptions are not needed for purchase. These are generally tablet or liquid forms that offer short term relief for people who suffer every now and then, but not severely.
The idea of the medicines is to reduce the pain, but also to reduce the damage caused by stomach acid. In rare cases, surgery may need to be looked into if medication is not helping as it should. Try the available treatments and lifestyle changes recommended to you. Try to deal with acid reflux as a genuine medical problem, do not just shrug it off. Continued exposure of stomach acid to the oesophagus can lead to inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, scar development and other serious conditions, including cancer.
By looking after your body and getting the right treatment, acid reflux does not need to be a daily problem.