Acid reflux, also called heartburn, acid indigestion, and pyrosis, is the burning sensation felt in the lower part of the chest. This happens when the acidic content in the stomach flows back up to the esophagus. And, this burning pain usually takes place after eating a meal.
What causes acid reflux?
There are several factors that could lead to acid reflux but we have listed below some of the common symptoms that could trigger the said condition.
One of the most known culprits of acid reflux is due to one’s lifestyle. This includes the daily habits and diet. If the acid reflux is due to lifestyle, then there is nothing to worry about since bad habits could be changed.
But there are also known causes of acid reflux that cannot be treated such as a hiatal hernia or what experts call, “hiatus”. This incurable cause is due to the hole in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity – often leading to Gastroesophageal Reflux Diseases (GERD) or acid reflux.
Other triggers or risk factors of Acid Reflux:
- Overweight or obesity
- Eating before bedtime
- Lack of exercises
- Medications for asthma, painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants, etc.
- Eating heavy meals then lying down after
- Eating spicy and fatty foods
- Drinking beverages that contain too much acid (alcohol, coffee, citrus drinks)
- High intake of salt
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
According to research, majority of the common complaints of people who suffer from acid reflux is chest pain or heartburn – a burning pain from the stomach all the way up to the throat.
Other common symptoms of Acid Reflux:
- Countless burping
- Unexpected weight loss
- Dry cough
- Bloody stool or bloody vomiting
- Sore throat
- Dysphagia or the narrowing of the throat
How is acid reflux diagnosed?
Before being diagnosed with acid reflux, you may still do some home remedies to see if the symptoms go away naturally. If you feel like the symptoms take place for two or more times a week, then that’s the time you go see your doctor. However, if by chance you think that the condition is due to lifestyle then you can try limiting the risk factors and check if the symptoms go away after.
Doing a change of lifestyle or trying out some home remedies could also help treat acid reflux. But some individuals who suffer the symptoms would always want to see a medical expert right away to immediately cure the said condition.
Upon seeing your doctor, one or more tests could be done to surely identify an acid reflux. Some of the possible tests involved are the following:
- pH monitoring: This is usually done to check if there are any amount of acid present in your esophagus. The doctor would need to insert a device in your esophagus that will last for 1 to 2 days to surely measure the amount of acid.
- Endoscopy: A lighted tube with a camera will be inserted down your throat to further check for problems in the esophagus. This test doesn’t only check for problems in the esophagus but could also look for other existing conditions in the stomach.
- Biopsy: This test is usually done during an endoscopy to check for abnormalities or infection on your sample tissue.
- Barium Swallow or Esophagram: You will have to swallow something that will then show up results through an X-ray. Aside from checking ulcers, this test can also check if the esophagus has started to narrow.
- Esophageal Manometry: This test is done to check if the esophagus is still functioning normally.
Natural Ways to Treat Acid Reflux
As highlighted above, risk factors due to lifestyle could be treated and prevented. In line with that, here are some of the steps you can do to get rid of acid reflux naturally.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- Limit smoking
- Avoid lying down right after eating
- Try changing your diet and try exercising regularly for weight loss
- Avoid wearing tight clothing and tight belts
- During daytime naps, try sleeping in a chair
Acid Reflux is easy to be treated. Once you know what causes the triggers, you may then try treating it naturally by just simply avoiding the risk factors. However, experts suggest that the best way to treat acid reflux is to combine a change of lifestyle with over-the-counter medications.
Yes, you’ve read it right. There are also some medications that could be prescribed to you by your doctor to lessen the symptoms and make the discomfort in the chest go away. You may ask your doctor about the prescription but some of the common over-the-counter drugs used for acid reflux are antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan, or Rolaids.
Before taking any medicine, you need to consult your doctors first since some of these drugs could also cause other health conditions such as diarrhea and constipation. This is why it would be best to see your doctor if you plan to take any medication to alleviate symptoms of acid reflux.
Despite the medications and the lifestyle change, there could still be chances wherein the symptoms would stay. If antacids don’t help, then your doctor could also suggest or prescribe you other means of medications such as proton pump inhibitors (e.g Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium), foaming agents (e.g Gaviscon), Prokinetics (e.g Reglan), or H2 Blockers (e.g Pepcid).
Remember that some of the health conditions an individual could feel could probably due to the kind of lifestyle he/she has. This is why one best way to take good care of yourself is to live a healthy lifestyle by eating clean and limiting or avoiding vices.
Common health conditions such as acid reflux are not life-threatening. However, such problems could also cause discomfort that could interfere with your everyday work. So if you by chance feel any early signs of acid reflux, better check if you are doing some of the possible risk factors and have it treated as soon as possible.