Acid reflux also known as GERD refers to a condition whereby from the stomach jumps back to the esophagus and up to the throat causing irritation to the tissue.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed because of acid backing up from the stomach. The esophagus or food pipe is the tube stretching from the throat to the stomach. When food is swallowed, it travels down the esophagus.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid after a meal to aid in the digestion of food.
- The inner lining of the stomach resists corrosion by this acid. The cells lining the stomach secrete large amounts of protective mucus.
- The lining of the esophagus does not share these resistant features and stomach acid can damage it.
- The esophagus lies just behind the heart, so the term “heartburn” was coined to describe the sensation of acid burning the esophagus.
Normally, a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, prevents reflux (or backing up) of acid.
- This sphincter relaxes during swallowing to allow food to pass. It then tightens to prevent flow in the opposite direction.
- With GERD, however, the sphincter relaxes between swallows, allowing stomach contents (gastric reflux) and corrosive acid to well up and damage the lining of the esophagus.
GERD affects about 20% of the US population. Not just adults are affected; even infants and children can have GERD.
It is not in all circumstances that a heart burn requires medical attention. There are ways to treat acid reflux naturally no matter where you are. These methods are cheap and hassle free.
Besides eliminating garlic breath, chewing gum after a meal might have other advantages, research suggests.
In a small study from the Journal of Dental Research, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms experienced heartburn relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal.
“Chewing gum stimulates the salivary flow rate,” says study author Rebecca Moazzez, DPhil, clinical lecturer in King’s College London’s department of restorative dentistry. “Any acid that accumulates in the gut is washed away and cleared more quickly. The clearance of acid improves GERD symptoms.”
Old wives’ tales will tell you the best way to beat heartburn is with a little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
“Baking soda is OK for most people with heartburn,” says Jacqueline Wolf, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Because it’s a base, it helps neutralize [stomach] acid.”
Dr. Wolf, author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach, recommends mixing between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water. But avoid making baking soda your go-to remedy if you regularly have heartburn—it is high in salt and could cause side effects like swelling and nausea.
Aloe, a plant usually used to soothe burns, could do the same thing for stomachs, says Victor Sierpina MD, professor of integrative and family medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston, and author of The Healthy Gut Workbook.
Aloe vera juice reduces inflammation so “it quiets down any inflammation that is in the esophagus as well as the stomach,” Dr. Sierpina says.
He recommends drinking 1/2 cup before meals, but warns that the juice can be a laxative. Look for brands that say the laxative component has been removed, such as Aloe Vera Power.
Sourced from: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20527745,00.html
Acid reflux requires effective treatment or else cause serious health problems such damage to the esophagus lining. A person is supposed to check with a doctor how severe their symptoms are so as to determine the mode of treatment for instance over the counter drugs, lifestyle changes and natural remedies or surgery.
The first step in treating acid reflux often includes lifestyle and diet modifications. The following steps can be effective for relieving mild symptoms:
- Avoid food, beverages and medications that can aggravate acid reflux symptoms, such as spicy foods, fried or fatty foods, chocolate, mint, alcohol, caffeine, cola, tomato products, citrus fruits or juices, ketchup or mustard or vinegar.
- Decrease portion sizes at mealtime.
- Eat meals at least two to three hours before bedtime and go to sleep with an empty stomach.
- Elevate the head of the bed four to six inches or use a wedge.
- Lose weight.
- Exercise with an empty stomach.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid stress.
In addition to lifestyle changes, a number of OTC and prescription medications are available to relieve moderate or severe acid reflux symptoms. Some of these medications neutralize stomach acid. Others help stop acid production. Medications are effective for most people. But they may require lifelong use for continued control of symptoms.
Oftentimes, antacids are the first drugs recommended to relieve heartburn. These over-the-counter medications neutralize acid in the stomach. Common antacids include TUMS®, Alka-Seltzer®, Mylanta®, Maalox®, Gaviscon®, Tritalac® and Rolaids®. Antacids work well for occasional or mild heartburn.
Side effects of antacids can include diarrhea and constipation. Plus, long-term use of antacids has been found to block the absorption of calcium and other vitamins and minerals in some people. And antacids can reduce the effectiveness of certain anti-hypertensive drugs and antibiotics. They can also reduce the effectiveness of H2 blockers, and are best used alone.
Medications work in about 90 percent of those with acid reflux. However, they don’t work for everyone and don’t repair the cause of acid reflux. For moderate or severe acid reflux, surgery may be a treatment option if:
- You continue to suffer from persistent heartburn, or other reflux symptoms, while taking medication.
- You are concerned about or develop adverse side effects, such as osteoporosis, as a result of taking medication.
- Symptoms return when therapy is stopped.
- Your esophagus is damaged (bleeding/stricture).
- You prefer not to take lifelong medication or feel you cannot afford to do so.
In addition, medications only address the symptoms of acid reflux, not the cause. And they don’t stop its progression. Even if your symptoms improve or disappear when on medication, you could still have acid reflux, possibly damaging your esophagus and leading to other serious health problems. Plus, studies have shown that symptoms often return when PPIs are withdrawn, requiring lifelong treatment in many.
Surgery, on the other hand, repairs the stomach valve that is allowing acid or bile to leak into the esophagus. Moreover, only surgery reduces regurgitation. And it is far more effective in improving asthma-like symptoms than drug treatment.