Given the stressful lives we lead these days, we often tend to ignore the tiniest of things that could lead to serious health complications. Yes, people are more concerned than ever about personal fitness and strict gym routines that are the order of the day. However, habits like eating right still tend to be ignored and are often the simplest solutions.
A common problem that is a direct result of a poor diet is acid reflux. This condition causes heartburn in the chest and happens when the stomach acid moves up into the oesophagus. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps to break food down. While the stomach lining is protected from this powerful acid, the oesophagus isn’t. Hence, when the acid moves up into the oesophagus, a burning sensation is felt known as acid reflux, also known as acid indigestion or pyrosis.
Repeated acid reflux results in a more serious condition known as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Diseases or GERD. If you are facing acid refluxes more than a few times in a week, you should certainly get checked for GERD.
Let’s take a detailed look at the causes of and remedies for this common and often ignored condition:
Causes of acid reflux
Besides the stomach abnormality called hiatal hernia wherein the stomach acid moves into the oesophagus, there are several reasons including bad eating habits and lifestyle choices that lead to acid reflux.
Various other risks that could lead to this condition are listed as under:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Snacking before bedtime
- Lying down immediately after eating
- Heavy meals
- Drinking alcohol and other beverages high on caffeine
- Certain foods that are spicy or fatty. Eating of tomatoes, chocolates, mint, onions, and garlic, and high consumption of table salt could cause acid reflux as well
- Muscle-relaxing or blood pressure medications. Other medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen
Symptoms of acid reflux
Some of the common symptoms to watch out for are as follows:
- A burning sensation or discomfort in the chest that could even rise up to the throat
- Bitter or sour taste in the mouth
- Coffee coloured stools or vomit(This requires an immediate hospital visit)
- Excessive burping or hiccups
- Constant sensation of food stuck in the throat
- Nauseous feeling
- Sudden weight loss
While lifestyle changes, healthy habits, and over-the-counter medicines often work to control repeated acid reflux, there could be instances when the conditions could probably worsen. Make sure you consult your doctor if there are repeated occurrences of acid reflux within a week. Treatment could range from simple antacids to even surgery if medications do not help to control GERD symptoms.
If antacids fail to provide comfort, a doctor may recommend foaming agents, prokinetics, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors for relief.
While hiatal hernia cannot be prevented, simple lifestyle changes can help avoid this rather uncomfortable condition. Eating healthy and on time, avoiding heavy meals and vices like smoking and alcohol consumption, and leading a healthy lifestyle can go a long way keeping conditions like repeated acid reflux in check.