Acid reflux is simply defined as involuntary reflux which moves contents of the stomach back up into your esophagus. This is also called Gastroesophageal reflux. However, if the episodes are happening more often, you are probably suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD affects about 20% of people and if left untreated can lead to complications that even can be life-threatening.
Symptoms Of GERD
The main symptom is a repeated episode of acid reflux. Acid reflux increases the burning feeling in the chest, neck, and throat. This is also sometimes called heartburn. One also gets a sour or bitter taste at the back of the mouth. As the disease progresses, it develops additional symptoms such as :
- Chest pain
- Pain in swallowing food or fluids
- Cough not responding to medicine
- Change in voice
- Bad breath
Causes Of GERD
The causes and actual mechanism of GERD are not known. However one can relate it to certain trends which have been seen common in GERD patients. Few causes are as under:
- Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular band of muscle at the end of esophagus. When we eat, it opens and it closes afterword. Acid reflux can happen because LES is unable to close immediately after having food.
- Hiatal hernia is when stomach moves above diaphragm and hence increases likelihood of LES failure.
- Frequently eating large amount of food or consuming oily and processed food.
- Lying down immediately after consuming food.
Treatment For GERD
GERD is not easy to manage and at various times the cause is unknown. However, there are some basic things that the doctor will recommend in the beginning. These are:
- Maintain correct BMI
- Quit smoking
- Avoid oily and processes food.
- Walk a bit after eating and avoid lying down immediately after eating.
- Elevate head while sleeping
- Antacids for a longer period
- Medicine to block H2 receptors – This will lower the amount of acid produced in stomach
- Proton pump inhibitors. This is another medicine which help reduce acid formation in stomach.
- Reduce alcohol intake. In case of increase in acid reflux after consumption, stop consumption of alcohol.
Food That May Trigger GERD
Some food items may trigger acid reflux and GERD. While food can be different from person to person. It is advised to all patients that they need to identify the food by trials and then exclude those items. Some food items are:
- High fat foods
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Tomato and tomato products
- Processed food using preservatives
It is recommended that before switching to medication, one must try the above points such as reduction in weight and change in eating habits. A few home remedies are as below:
- Alkaline Water – Simply increase water intake. These days we hear a lot about alkaline water. Hence one can drink alkaline water to reduce acid in the stomach.
- Baking Soda – One can drink baking soda twice a day after meal for a few days. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is high in sodium and may have side effects in case someone has high blood pressure or any other underlining disease.
- Yoga and Pranayama – Certain asana and pranayama are extremely effective and show results in a few days only. However, to do these correctly it is recommended to learn them from an instructor only.
A Word From H2FCare
Lifestyle changes are the most effective way to counter acid reflux. Making life active and increasing physical activity can surely treat acid reflux and GERD. Pranayama and asana are also an excellent course of treatment and many have benefitted from them.
One must not delay reaching out to the doctor in case there is no relief from home remedies and lifestyle changes. Living with GERD for a long duration may create complications.