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Acid Reflux Pain, Ways to Sooth the Burning

Ever get heartburn after eating your favorite meal, or have a sore throat with acidic remnants? This could be caused by acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Most people at some point in their life experience the symptoms of acid reflux but about 10% of American adults deal with acid reflux on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they don’t have to continue living with these painful symptoms. Acid reflux is a common and treatable problem, however most people don’t even realize it.

            Acid reflux disease or disorder is caused from an inflammation or irritation of the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. When we eat, food goes down the esophagus into the stomach where acid is released to digest the food. However, once the food is in the stomach the lower esophageal sphincter is supposed to close off the stomach not allowing any food, liquid or acid to move backwards up the esophagus. When the sphincter isn’t closed tightly some regurgitation can splash up into the esophagus. This fluid contains acid, pepsin and bile, which are harmful to the lining of the esophagus. If this continues to occur overtime it can be potentially dangerous for the esophagus. 

Although the primary cause of acid reflux is the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter there are other risk factors that can lead to acid reflux disease. Obesity, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and taking some prescription medications are all outside factors that can cause acid reflux. The medications that can cause acid reflux include blood pressure medication, asthma medication, heart disease medication, antidepressants and some sedatives. Hiatal hernias, pregnancy, and scleroderma are conditions that have also been linked with acid reflux.

            Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, burning pain in the chest, nausea after eating, regurgitation, trouble swallowing or food feeling trapped within the esophagus. Although there are other symptoms that are not as likely such as coughing, wheezing, hiccups, pain with swallowing, hoarseness, sore throat and acid residue in the throat. Symptoms can be minimal or severe depending upon the person’s case of acid reflux. If acid reflux becomes chronic without any relief damage to the esophagus can cause additional symptoms that can lead to esophageal cancer later on down the road. Injury to the esophagus can cause a chronic cough, laryngitis, asthma, dentine hypersensitivity, sinusitis, erosion of the dental enamel and damaged and discolored teeth. 

 Acid reflux is treatable and manageable through several different techniques. Due to our society’s reliability on medicine, most people would probably choose an over the counter antacid to suppress the acid reflux. Although, this may work in the mean time to relieve the symptoms by removing the acid, it won’t work for chronic acid reflux, which keeps coming back. Prescription medications for heartburn relief can work however they usually take longer and can cause side effects that are worse than the symptoms of acid reflux. These medications include Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Nexium, and Prilosec, H2 antagonists such as Zantac, and Pepsid and Promotility agents.  However, most often than not the best way to treat acid reflux is through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Making small but effective lifestyle changes can rid your body and life of acid reflux. Although, food is something that the body needs to function, it can be our worst enemy in terms of acid reflux. Some foods, normally the ones we love to eat, can actually be the culprit, which causes our stomachs to excrete excess acid.  By reducing the intake of these foods, or learning to eat them in a different way (with different foods) we can decrease or eliminate the symptoms of acid reflux.

            Alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, spicy foods, fatty foods, full fat dairy products, peppermint, and spearmint have all been shown to trigger acid reflux. Eating large meals have also been proven to cause acid reflux due to the additional acid production in the stomach as well as the overflow of fluid into the esophagus. In addition you should avoid eating within 2-3 hours before you go to bed. Lying down with a full stomach can cause the fluid to go back up into the esophagus. You should also raise your upper body and head approximately 6 inches above your stomach. This will not allow for acid, or food to move upwards into the esophagus. Wearing tight clothes around the stomach can also increase the symptoms of acid reflux. It puts pressure on the stomach, which can force food up into the esophagus.

            Stop being burdened by the symptoms of acid reflux. You now have the capability to live free of heartburn and acid reflux. Don’t let acid reflux disease inconvenience your life any more than it already has. Make the choice today!