Acid Reflux: Cause, Symptoms and Remedies

After having a meal, you may feel sudden discomfort in the upper part of your stomach. You may experience that the contents of your stomach are regurgitating back to your throat, generating heartburn or causing a sour or bitter taste in your mouth. It is a common condition termed as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux.

Gastroesophageal reflux resulting in heartburn affects approximately 30% of the general population. Occasional episodes of acid reflux are common in healthy individuals.

If you experience acid reflux twice a week or more than that, you may suffer from a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). NIDDK, an institution for digestive, diabetes and kidney diseases says, GERD affects about 20% of the United States population. It may cause severe complications if left untreated.

Pathophysiology

Gastroesophageal reflux disease develops when the oesophageal mucosa is exposed to gastroduodenal contents for prolonged periods. This results in symptoms and, in a proportion of cases, oesophagitis. Various factors are known to associate in the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease:

  • Obesity dietary factors
  • Defective esophageal clearances
  • Abnormal lower esophageal sphincter
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Delayed gastric emptying
  • Increased intra-abdominal pressure

Causes of Acid Reflux

People suffer from acid reflux gradually. There is usually no apparent reason why. People of different ages may suffer from acid reflux.

Sometimes it is caused or made worse by:

  • Particular drink and food like coffee, alcohol, chocolate and greasy or spicy foods
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Some medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin
  • Hiatus hernia

Symptoms of Acid-Reflux

There are many symptoms seen for acid reflux. The main symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • Heartburn: a burning feeling in your chest
  • Blenching- an unpleasant sour tang in your mouth, produced by stomach acids and the masticated food.

Some other symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Repeated hiccups
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • A sensation of a lump in your throat
  • A hoarse voice
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Sometimes cause breathing problems, like chronic cough or asthma

The symptoms probably get worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.

If you have night-time acid reflux, you may encounter:

  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep

Risk Factors of Acid Reflux

GERD has many risk factors. Cases that exaggerate your risk of GERD are:

  • Obesity
  • Swelling on top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Delayed stomach emptying
  • Pregnancy (due to increased pressure over the internal organs)

Factors that can worsen acid reflux include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating large meals
  • Eating late at night
  • High consumption of table salt
  • Lack of dietary fiber in the diet
  • Lying down after having a meal
  • Eating greasy, fatty or fried foods,
  • Drinking alcohol or coffee
  • Taking particular medications, such as aspirin

Complications of Acid Reflux

GERD can lead to severe complications in the long term, including a high risk of cancer if left untreated. Chronic exposure to stomach acids can inflame the inner lining and damage the oesophagus. Possible complications of GERD include:

  • Esophagitis: the inflamed lining of the oesophagus causing tenderness, bleeding, and ulceration in some cases.
  • Oesophageal Strictures: narrowing or tightening of the oesophagus due to scar formation as damage caused by stomach acids.
  • Barrett's oesophagus: This condition causes permanent changes in the lining of oesophagus due to repeated exposure to stomach acid, having the potential to develop into cancer cells.
  • Oesophagal cancer
  • Breathing problems, asthma, chronic cough may happen if your breath contains stomach acid.
  • Dental problems like tooth enamel erosion, gum disease, etc. may occur.

Diagnosis of Acid Reflux

At times, visiting a doctor with the sign symptoms you are experiencing, your Doctor might suspect GERD. They'll carry out a physical examination on the following procedures to verify a diagnosis or check for complications of GERD:

  • Barium swallow: after drinking a barium solution, Doctor suggest X-ray imaging to examine your upper digestive tract
  • Upper endoscopy: a stretchy tube with a miniature camera is inserted into your oesophagus for examination and collect a sample tissue for biopsy.
  • Oesophageal manometry: a flexible tube is passed into your oesophagus to estimate the strength of your oesophagal muscles
  • Oesophageal pH monitoring: a monitor is inserted into your oesophagus to learn the timing of stomach acid entering.

Treatment of Acid Reflux

After being diagnosed with GERD, your Doctor shall prescribe you the following medications:

  • PPIs- omeprazole, esomeprazole, rabeprazole and pantoprazole
  • H2 blockers- cimetidine and famotidine
  • Over-the-counter treatments- antacids
  • Alginate drugs- Gaviscon

Nowadays there is a trending supplement for acid reflux available in the market. The supplement is known as "Probiolite". ProbioLite is a probiotic health supplement which works to restore the inner gut ecosystem balance of good bacteria vs harmful bacteria. It helps combat acid reflux and nightly heartburn.

The Remedy of Acid Reflux

There are numerous lifestyle changes and home remedies that may help you to relieve GERD symptoms. Like:

  • Lifestyle modification
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose excess weight
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Avoid resting after eating
  • Abstain from foods and drinks that provoke your symptoms
  • Avoid wearing uncomfortable clothing
  • Practice relaxation techniques

Lifestyle Modification

A simple lifestyle adjustment can help stop or reduce acid reflux. Here's what you need to follow:

Do's

  • Eat frequent meals but smaller in the portion
  • Elevate one end of your bed 10 to 20cm so that your chest and head should be higher the level of your waist, so stomach acid does not move up towards your throat
  • Practice exercising
  • Try relaxing exercises

Dont's

  • No food or drink that triggers your symptoms
  • No meals within 1 or 2 hours before bed
  • Do not wear skin-tight clothes
  • No to smoking
  • Do not booze too much
  • Do not quit taking any prescribed medicine without speaking to a doctor

Bottom Line

In general, occasional heartburn isn't a concerning reason. But if you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you might have GERD.

GERD is a chronic type of acid reflux that can cause complications if left untreated.

So if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle, follow the remedy and lifestyle modification given above. You may control your acid reflux following those. Probio Lite supplement helps rebalance your gut with beneficial bacteria and eliminate the painful acid reflux and burning sensation.

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