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All You Need To Know About Acid Reflux

Has it ever been that you consumed food, and after a while, felt a liquid come up from your throat that left you with a weird, burning sensation? This is Acid Reflux – a common condition, that can turn chronic if proper care is not ensured. 

What is Acid Reflux?

To understand what Acid Reflux is, one needs to be aware of how food flows to our stomach after consumption.

After being consumed through the mouth, it flows down the esophagus, and a special valve – the gastroesophageal sphincter – leads it into the stomach. This valve is especially in place to prevent the food from flowing back up the esophagus.

Therefore, it is when this valve fails – that Acid Reflux occurs.

It could be that your ring of muscle (valve), the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely once food has passed through or continues to open too often. Like a doorway to the esophagus, it thus lets the acid in your stomach move up your esophagus, causing an acid reflux.

What Does It Feel To Have An Acid Reflux?

If something coming back up your throat sounds like puking – that isn’t exactly what an acid reflux feels like.

An acid reflux consists of the stomach’s strong acids making their way back up your esophagus. This results in:

  • A sour taste in your mouth
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Heartburn
  • Feeling a lump in the throat

This is why, an acid reflux is also known as “Heartburn”; which ironically, has everything to do with the stomach and nothing to do with the heart.

The sour taste in the mouth can also lead to feelings of Nausea, constant burps, coughing, or vomiting.

Acid Reflux and GERD: Is there a difference?

While Acid Reflux is also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), there is but a thin line between the two. GERD is a more severe, and chronic form of acid reflux, in which heartburn occurs more than twice a week.  

Causes of Acid Reflux

While the technical reason for an acid reflux is the failing of the gastroesophageal sphincter, that can happen to anybody; there are certain risk factors that can make you prone to experience acid reflux.

Smoking

Whether you smoke cigarettes or are used to chewing tobacco, the nicotine in the product affects the valve stopping food from the stomach from going back into the esophagus. As the valve is relaxed, the strong acids are able to move back up – causing Acid Reflux.

Being Overweight

Studies have shown a relationship between obesity and contracting GERD; making it a direct, positive relationship. Since extra weight, or being over-weight enhances abdominal pressure; as a result, the individual is more likely to experience backflow or leakage of stomach acid.

Pregnancy

Same as obesity, pregnancy gives way to extra weight on an individual. As the pressure on internal organs increased, there is an increased risk of backflow of stomach acids into the esophagus.

Physical Inactivity

While being involved in intense physical activity can be a catalyst to reflux; being completely inactive is more prone to cause acid reflux. This is because physical activity helps digestion as well as the shedding of a few pounds. Preventing obesity, moderate physical activity can help fight against acid reflux – while being inactive can be a cause for it.  

Certain Medication

Just as some medications have mild side-effects, an acid reflux can be one of them. Such medicines include sedatives, painkillers, ibuprofen, medicines against blood pressure, as well as anti-asthma drugs.

Hiatus Hernia

The diaphragm is a muscle separating the chest from the abdomen. Thus, it plays a vital role in keeping the acids of the stomach in their place. In Hiatus or Hiatal Hernia, the upper portion of the stomach bulges above the diaphragm; thus, allowing for acid backflow into the esophagus.

Can Foods Cause Acid Reflux?

It is not just aspects like smoking or medical conditions like Hiatal Hernia that make you more at risk to experiencing Acid Reflux. Some foods are also known to trigger the backflow:

Salt

A study has shown that people who add table salt to their foods are known to have a 70% higher chance of contracting acid reflux, than those who don’t.

Oily and Spicy Foods

While consuming oily and spicy foods may not directly lead to GERD or an acid reflux, it can enflame the esophagus to feelings of heartburn – a symptom of acid reflux.

Alcohol

Consumption of alcohol is known to affect the stomach and esophagus in a variety of ways; sometimes also causing acid reflux.

Tea and Coffee

If you are fond of tea and coffee, you may want to put down the cup to protect yourself from acid reflux. A major component in these beverages is Caffeine, that is known to relax the gastroesophageal sphincter. Thereby, enhancing risk of acid reflux.

While certain foods can trigger the reflux, lifestyle and dietary choices such as eating a heavy meal and then immediately going to sleep or lying on your back can cause acid reflux. 

What Can You Do About It?

To preventing acid reflux; simply reverse the causes.

This means, to put a stop on nicotine consumption, lessen the intake of alcohol, table salt, spicy foods, and caffeinated products, while indulging in physical activity to lose weight.

There are also some foods that can help prevent and relieve acid reflux. They include:

Oatmeal

High in fiber and a favorite for healthy breakfasts and easy snacking; have a bowl of oatmeal for a refreshing meal and prevention from acid reflux.

Egg Whites

While the egg yolk is fatty and can be a cause for a reflux, only consuming egg whites is a good way to go. In addition, they can help lose weight too!

Bananas

Since acidic fruits trigger reflux, a non-citrusy fruit like Banana is a great way to fulfill you desire for fruits while preventing acid reflux.

Yoghurt

Aiding digestion and a way to enhance immunity levels, a bowl of Yoghurt a day can leave you healthy and reflux-free.

Ginger

With anti-inflammatory properties, Ginger is a great solution for gastrointestinal issues.

To prevent acid reflux, choose your foods and fruits wisely, and make sure you consume slowly, especially while sitting upright.

When To See the Doctor?

Considering acid reflux is a common condition, it can be prevented and treated accordingly. Some over-the-counter medicines like Antacids or H-2- Receptor Blockers can especially work to counter the effects of an acid reflux.

However, if the condition worsens, you experience frequent refluxes, have difficulty swallowing, or feel your acid reflux may be getting chronic and converting to GERD – see a doctor right away. 

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