Acid reflux disease is a condition in which lower esophageal sphincter fails to close properly. This sphincter is a valve situated in the stomach entrance. In normal conditions, the sphincter closes after the food is passed. When the sphincter opens too often and does not close, the stomach acid enters the esophagus. A defective sphincter causes symptoms like heartburn and chest pain. Mostly, acid reflux is a harmless condition. However, if the problem of acid reflux becomes chronic and severe, it can lead to scarring of the esophagus. Therefore, it is important to take timely treatment for the condition. The main symptoms, causes, medicines and lifestyle changes for acid reflux are as follows.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can be due to stomach problems like hiatal hernia, in which the stomach acid enters the esophagus. Some factors that increase the risk of acid reflux are consuming large meals, obesity, pregnancy, sleeping after eating food, bending the body at waist and eating snacks at bedtime. Some foods like garlic, chocolate, citrus foods and mint can cause acid reflux. The condition can be due to eating foods that contain high amount of spices and fat. Consuming beverages like coffee, tea and alcohol can cause the disease. Carbonated drinks can also trigger the disease. Use of medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen and blood pressure medicines can cause acid reflux. The disease can be due to the use of muscle relaxant medicines.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux disease can cause symptoms like heartburn, in which the patient feels burning and discomfort in chest, abdomen and throat. There is regurgitation, in which the acid enters the throat and mouth. There can be bloating, burping and hiccups. The patient feels as if the food stuck and blocked in the throat. When the gastric juice enters the air passages situated in lungs, it leads to asthma. There is dysphagia, in which the patient has problem in swallowing food and drinks. The stools become black and bloody. There is blood in vomiting. Some other symptoms of this disease are wheezing, sore throat, dental erosion, weight loss, dry cough and nausea. There is hoarseness and a feeling that the voice is cracking. The vocal cords become irritated when the acid enters the esophagus.
Treatment of Acid Reflux
The treatment of acid reflux is done with medicines and lifestyle changes. Antacids like Mylanta and Riopan are given. These medicines help in neutralizing the stomach acid. Antacids should not be overused as it may lead to constipation and diarrhea. Some other medicines that help in treating acid reflux are foaming agents, acid suppressants, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and prokinetics.
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
Dietary and lifestyle changes help in treating acid reflux. Small and frequent meals should be taken. Avoid foods that cause heartburn like coffee, garlic, black pepper, tea, alcohol, tomato, vinegar, chili, citrus fruits and spicy foods. Avoid gassy foods like cabbage, beans, kale, broccoli, soda drinks and cauliflower. The upper part of the bed should be raised by four to six inches by placing blocks under it. Sleep two to three hours after eating food. Take afternoon naps by sleeping on chair. Avoid tight clothes and belts. Obese people should exercise and do dieting to lose weight.