Acid Reflux – What It Is and Why You Have It

Millions suffer from acid reflux disease and acid reflux symptoms

You’ve no doubt had a little indigestion from time to time; pretty much everyone does. Too much pizza, coffee on an empty stomach, a stress-filled day with nothing to eat but a couple donuts – these can cause indigestion for a lot of people. But for many, these can do more than just cause indigestion. They can cause absolute misery with horrible heartburn and food and juices coming back up, the product of acid reflux disease.

Acid reflux can disrupt life
Acid reflux can manifest in several ways. Symptoms of acid reflux can include:

  • moderate to severe heartburn
  • acids or food coming back up the esophagus
  • upset stomach
  • difficulty swallowing
  • hoarseness
  • persistent cough
  • a sour or bitter taste in your mouth

Without a doubt, though, heartburn and food coming back up are the two most serious and annoying (and that’s putting it mildly sometimes) acid reflux symptoms.

The stomach lining contains pumps that produce the acid the body uses during digestion. The burning pain from acid reflux is caused when this stomach acid backs up, or refluxes, into the esophagus or further. This happens because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a sort-of one-way valve, relaxes and opens more often than it should, allowing harsh stomach juices, acids and foods to back up into the esophagus. This can be particularly problematic at night, when foods and juices can back up more easily because the body is horizontal.

Over time, a condition called erosive esophagitis (EE) can develop, in which acid reflux can erode the esophageal lining due to constant reflux of acid into the sensitive esophagus. This can usually be corrected with the use of an FDA-approved acid reflux drug. Acid reflux can also affect the teeth, as the regurgitation of acid can eat away at tooth enamel.

Heartburn pain can be deceptive, and can actually be a sign of a heart attack. If you ever experience chest pain that you are not sure is heartburn and you think may be an indication of a cardiac event, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Some ways to stop acid reflux
In addition to using an acid reflux drug, you can help prevent acid reflux from occurring in a number of ways, such as:

  • avoiding spicy, fried, greasy, and other types of foods that you know may cause your acid reflux to act up
  • eating your last meal or snack several hours before bed, giving food a time to digest
  • sleeping with your head and upper body at a 5 to 7 degree angle to help keep food down
  • quitting cigarettes, as smoking can aggravate the condition

Reflux in children
It may seem odd, but beginning in infancy, children can also suffer with acid reflux. Thankfully, most children with reflux will outgrow it. It may return, in adulthood, unrelated to the original case. Babies usually suffer with it because of an underdeveloped digestive tract. It can be an extremely distressing condition for a little one to deal with.

How can I know if my child has reflux?
Your child may have reflux if:

  • The baby has poor weight gain
  • The baby vomits frequently (more than once or twice daily)
  • The baby shows discomfort eating or refuses food
  • There are persistent hiccups
  • There is a persistent cough
  • There are frequent choking episodes
  • There is sour breath
  • Child complains of burning pain in the chest area
  • Child complains that eating hurts

Reflux is common
Some degree of reflux is common in almost everyone. But if you are one of those people who experiences severe heartburn and reflux on a regular basis, you should adopt some of the eating and lifestyle adjustments mentioned above, and perhaps consider ordering an online prescription of an anti-reflux drug.

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