Acid reflux is the most common problem and complaint seen by medical professionals these days. Acid reflux is also known as heartburn. It is the most common chronic disease in which stomach acid flows into the food pipe thus irritating the lining of the esophagus and causing heartburn or acid reflux. Acid reflux more than twice a week or more often is called GERD. It is defined as Gastroesophageal reflux disease in which the acidic contents of the stomach back up in the esophagus thus damaging the lining of the esophagus. There are many Acid reflux home remedies to do home treatment if the problem is not serious and frequent.
Acid reflux when irritating the lining of the esophagus may cause heartburn, regurgitation of food, or nausea. It is experienced by most people these days from time to time and thus they need to manage this discomfort either with lifestyle changes or medications and that depends upon the severity of GERD.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The most common symptoms are listed as follows –
- Burning in the chest also called or heartburn or burning sensation in the chest area is the most common symptom during acid reflux.
- Regurgitation of food (Sour liquid) especially during the night.
Difficulty in swallowing food.
- Chest pain
- Coughing most commonly dry cough
- Disturbed sleep
- Bitter taste / sour taste in the mouth
- Pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen
Acid reflux is very common these days especially due to lifestyle but the symptoms must not be ignored for the long term. The inflammation in the lining of the esophagus over time may cause bleeding and even cause cancer.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of Acid reflux experienced at some point of life by most of us in day to day life. Chest pain or Heartburn is the pain or burning sensation in the middle of the chest region caused by stomach acid.
Most people experience heartburn after a heavy meal and especially in the middle of the night. It worsens when they lie in bed especially after a heavy meal and make the night sleep disturbing.
However, lifestyle modification and Over the counter (OTC) drugs for acid reflux suggested by your healthcare provider could relieve the symptoms.
Risk or Complications if Left Untreated
The various complication can occur if GERD / Acid reflux is left untreated are –
Esophagitis and Ulcers – Continue stomach acid could irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause inflammation leading to esophagitis thus making it difficult to swallow food.
Continuous Acidic reflux or GERD could lead to ulcers thus making swallowing difficult, nausea, burning sensation in chest or chest pain.
Cancers – Long-term GERD if left untreated may increase the chance of Cancer. Esophagus cancer is called Barrett’s esophagus that includes symptoms such as Chest pain, difficulty in swallowing food but the symptoms appear at a later age.
You must get your screening done or get an endoscopy done as soon as possible if you experience the symptoms of acid reflux more frequently.
Tooth decay – Continuous stomach acid can wear tooth enamel thus making the teeth weaker and prone to dental caries or decay.
When are the Symptoms Observed Commonly?
The symptoms of Acid Reflux are most commonly observed –
- After eating a heavy meal
- Lying down immediately especially on your back after a heavy meal
- While lifting heavy objects
The people who have the problem of acidic reflux observe the symptoms more frequently at midnight, especially after having a heavy meal and lying down immediately after a heavy meal.
Some people may experience pain in the abdomen along with discomfort, heartburn, nausea, bitter taste in the mouth.
GERD symptoms are frequently observed by pregnant women especially heartburn and nausea. However, it completely goes off after delivery.
Triggers or Causes of Acid reflux
Certain food triggers the symptoms of acid reflux and makes the symptoms worse. Triggers that can aggravate the symptoms are –
- Alcohol or caffeinated drinks such as Tea, Coffee
- Citrus fruits such as oranges
- Fried and fatty food
- Sweet food including chocolates
- Long fasting hours
- The various medication also triggers acidic reflux such as NSAID’s (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen ) or Aspirin
Do’s and Don’ts to Reduce Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Do’s – You can try these lifestyle modification techniques to reduce the symptoms or to prevent Acid reflux.
- Limit intake of heavy meals within one go.
- Control your weight if you are overweight
- Exercise and meditate regularly to reduce stress, worries, and anxiety.
- Relax your body and mind before going to sleep in mind.
Don’ts – Avoiding few habits that could trigger acid reflux could prevent the symptoms.
- Avoid food and drinks that trigger such cases of heartburn.
- You must avoid eating heavy meals before going to bed.
- One must avoid eating too much spicy, fried and fatty food.
- Limit intake of ginger, garlic, and chocolates.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
- Quit or Avoid smoking and other tobacco products.
The treatment of Acid reflux or GERD depends on the severity of the symptoms. You may consult your doctor for further investigations and medication in case you suffer from Acid reflux symptoms more often.
Prescription Medicines –
Over the counter medications helps in reducing symptoms and discomfort.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to treat GERD.
Antacids – In mild cases of heartburn and mild GERD symptoms Antacids are very beneficial. However, this medication should not be taken regularly, except if in case it is prescribed by your doctor.
H2 blockers – To reduce the acid production in the stomach H2 blockers are prescribed as it heals the esophagus but you must start this medication once your doctor prescribes it.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)- PPIs reduce acid production and are better at treating GERD symptoms than H2 blockers. PPIs also heal the esophageal lining that gets inflamed due to frequent acid production. For long-term GERD treatment PPIs are prescribed by doctors.
Other medication – Depending on the response and relief achieved by the above set of medications other medicines are prescribed if required.
If your GERD symptoms do not improve either from lifestyle modification and medication your doctor may recommend surgery.
Most patients, respond well with the combination approach of lifestyle modification and medication. But some patients do not get relief and thus surgery is recommended in these patients.
Acid Reflux Home Remedies –
If you feel you are suffering from frequent episodes of heartburn, acid reflux, and related symptoms you might try these few home care remedies to prevent yourself from the discomfort.
First and foremost, never indulge yourself in overeating. Most commonly, acid reflux symptoms are observed after having a heavy and large meal within one go and that too especially at night.
If you are overweight, you are likely to suffer from acid reflux more frequently. Excessive pressure in the abdomen aggravates or triggers acid reflux. Losing weight might prevent you from acid reflux.
High Fiber-Rich Diet
Low card and high fiber-rich diet relieve heartburn symptoms. Undigested food with too many carbs often cause bloating and may trigger acid reflux. A high fiber-rich diet reduces and improves the condition.
Alcohol triggers acidic reflux and even worsen the symptoms of GERD. Limit your alcohol intake or if possible completely avoid alcohol if you suffer from GERD.
Too much caffeine in the form of tea and coffee increase the risk of acid reflux. Coffee itself worsens the symptoms of GERD. If too much coffee or tea gives you heartburn or nausea simply avoid it.
Avoid Carbonated Beverages
The beverages like soft drinks, preservative drinks such as orange juices promote heartburn. So it must be avoided as much as possible.
Smoking is complete no as it not only worsen the symptoms of heartburn but it is bad for overall health too.
Elevate the Head of the Bed
If you suffer from acid reflux more frequently during the night elevate the head of your bed. Elevating the head while sleeping is effective to reduce symptoms at night.
Food that Helps
Try to incorporate food such as fruits especially apples, green leafy vegetables that are naturally low in fat in your diet more often to prevent yourself from the symptoms of heartburn.
Non-mint, non-sweet chewing gums especially after meals promotes salivation, neutralize acid production, calm esophagus, and thus prevent acidic reflux especially after meals. Completely avoid peppermint flavor gums since they trigger heartburn and worsen the symptoms.
Milk is available in almost every household. Drinking cold milk in sips absorbs excess acid produced and thus provide instant relief from heartburn or burning sensation one feels during acid reflux.
Eat less, Sit More, Walk Regularly
Smaller meals put less pressure on the stomach and thus reduce heartburn, acidic reflux. Do not go to sleep right after having large heavy meals, walk for at least half an hour or sit for at least half an hour before lying down to reduce or prevent the symptoms of acid reflux.
Relax More Often
Meditation, yoga, short walks, deep breathing few minutes at least 5 days a week limit your stress levels as well as acidic reflux.
Prolonged and long-term acid reflux if not controlled as soon as possible could damage the esophagus causing ulcers and in severe cases put you at risk of esophageal cancer too.
If your symptoms are not improving with lifestyle modifications or home remedies it is really important to talk to your doctor to get proper investigations done on time with proper advice and a medical treatment plan.
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