Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter ring of muscle fails to close all the way or it opens too often as food passes through it. This in turn produces an acid in the stomach which can move up into the victim's esophagus causing symptoms such as chest pain or heartburn. If this happens more than twice a week, such an individual is deemed to be suffering from acid reflux disease.
The most common cause of acid reflux disease is hiatal hernia which is a stomach abnormality which occurs when one's upper part of the stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) move above the diaphragm a muscle separating human beings' stomach from the chest. More often than not, it is the diaphragm that helps in keeping the acid in our stomach but if one is suffering from a hiatal hernia, the acid can move up into his or her diaphragm causing the signs and symptoms of acid reflux illness.
Common risk factors of acid reflux disease in individuals include consuming large meals or if a person lies down immediately after taking a meal, an overweight person, snacking just before bedtime, eating heavy meal then bending over at the waist or lying. In addition, eating foods such as mint, garlic, onions, citrus or fatty foods; smoking, being pregnant or taking certain muscle relaxers, pressure medications, ibuprofen and aspirin.
Signs and symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of acid reflux include a feeling of heartburn which is a burning sensation or discomfort that may move from an individual's tummy to the chest and even up to his esophagus; and regurgitation which is a sour acid backing up into the person's mouth. Other signs and symptoms common to acid reflux disease include bloating, bloody vomiting or bloody and black stools, burping, wheezing, chronic sore throat, dry cough and hoarseness; loss of weight for no apparent reason, unending hiccups and narrowing of the esophagus creating a sensation of food getting stuck in the throat also known as dysphagia.
An individual should strive to do moderate exercise aimed at helping in weight loss. Inasmuch as most dietary interventions have less supporting evidence of gastroesophageal reflux promotion, people should be keen on foods they eat. Besides, one should stop smoking and drinking of alcohol, eat before lying down if it is associated with the symptoms of acid reflux. Spicy foods, fatty foods, acidic foods, chocolate, coffee and alcohol should be avoided by victims of acid reflux at all times. In addition, one ought to go to the bed with an empty dry stomach by avoiding any food three hours prior to bedtime. Check on your posture as bending or lying down a lot increases reflux. When you sit hunched or you decide to wear tight belts extra pressure may be directed on your stomach which is likely to worsen the acid reflux.
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An individual who has had a long-standing inflammation coupled with severe pain may experience stricture of the esophagus, may develop cancer of the esophagus or may even be affected with barret's esophagus. A patient should thus seek medical attention immediately he or she experiences any of the symptoms of acid reflux to avoid developing any of the above complications.
Treatment of acid reflux include the use of antacids which are the alkaline liquids or tablets used to limit the amount of acid, acid suppressing medicines such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine receptor blockers; proknetic medicines to speed up food passage through the stomach including dompperidone and metoclopromide, and surgical operation.
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