Acid Reflux: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Good health isn’t something money can buy. It is also something no one can take away or ask from us. It is earned and when you have it, there’s no better feeling like it. Life isn’t always sunshine, though. There may be days when you feel better, but there may also be times when you feel worse. This is especially true when your gut is affected. Research says that gut health is directly related to emotional health. Thus, your mood swings are truly inevitable if you’re suffering from digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as acid reflux.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscle located between the lower part of the esophagus and the stomach. Its normal function is to open to allow food to pass through then close afterward. However, if the LES doesn’t fully close, or if it opens unnecessarily, the acid and other digestive juices from the stomach rise all the way up into the upper part of the esophagus, thus causing what is known as acid reflux.
The symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms are heartburn, the burning feeling moving from your abdomen, chest or throat. Heartburn can last for long hours and most often occurs after a meal. Another notable symptom most of us may have experienced is regurgitation. It the sour-tasting liquid (but is acid) taste we feel rising from the throat into the mouth. Other symptoms include bloating, dysphagia (the discomfort that something is in your throat), sore throat, black stools, burping, nausea, and even weight loss.
Causes and Treatment
Treatment of acid reflux or GERD usually includes over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies, and without visiting the physician. Having a healthy lifestyle by exercising which will aid in losing weight, quitting smoking, and eating smaller meals usually help to avoid this disease from recurring. Practical suggestions such as avoiding tight clothing, not lying down right away after eating, avoiding foods that trigger acid reflux can do greater good than treatment. Also, slippery elm, chamomile, and licorice root are the most commonly used herbs to treat acid reflux.
But, in the worst-case scenarios and you feel like you need medical attention, do not hesitate to do so. You can expect the doctor to let you swallow a barium solution, and afterward, you will undergo an x-ray imaging for examination. Other diagnostic procedures include esophageal pH monitoring, upper endoscopy, and esophageal manometry. These procedures may vary slightly differently depending on the information that the doctor wants to know about your current condition and the severity of your case.
Prevention is Always Better than Cure
But, of course, the cure will never be better than preventing this condition at all. This can be done if you avoid lying down right away after eating, or simply avoid overeating. If you are really tired and want to rest after a meal, try sleeping on your right instead of lying on your back, especially if you just ate a heavy meal. This will go in favor of the position of the stomach and allow your digestive system to break down food efficiently. Eating early in the evening and not close to bedtime will also help you not to keep yourself awake when you have just finished eating.
There are cases where alcohol triggers acid reflux. Thus, it can be avoided by drinking only small amounts or taking it in moderation. In the case of pregnant women, the change in the production of hormones coupled with the growing fetus inside the womb causes the esophageal muscles to relax, increasing the risk of acid reflux.