Acid reflux is a condition that is different from acid indigestion and sporadic cases of heartburn. While acid indigestion occurs as a result of environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle habits, acid reflux is a condition that occurs as a result of a malfunctioning esophageal sphincter.
Normally, when people swallow, the esophageal sphincter relaxes so that food and liquid can flow from the esophagus into the stomach. For some people, this normal process can be problematic. The sphincter may not relax properly or it may be too weak to close completely. As a result, stomach acid and partially digested contents may flow backwards into the esophagus.
Acid reflux occurs as a result of a variety of environmental, genetic, and physiological factors. You may not be able to prevent the condition because it may not have anything to do with your diet or lifestyle.
People with acid indigestion are able to control their symptoms through diet and lifestyle modifications. If you experience frequent indigestion, it may be helpful to avoid foods that are high in fat. By eating smaller portions as part of a balanced diet, you may be able to control your acid indigestion.
For many people, the symptoms of acid reflux, like the symptoms of acid indigestion, are triggered by certain foods, habits, or situations. Even stress and cigarette smoking can aggravate your acid reflux. If you have acid reflux or GERD, you may notice that certain foods trigger your symptoms. By avoiding these foods and habits, you can keep your condition under control - sometimes without the use of medications.
Many people are able to keep their acid reflux and GERD under control through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. Some people will need over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some people with severe damage, sphincter malfunctions, and cases of acid reflux will require surgery to repair abnormalities and stomach acid damage.
Certain foods instigate acid reflux symptoms. These include alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, chocolate, acidic food, milk, creamy foods, some vegetables, garlic, carbonated beverages, and mint. Large meals can also case your acid reflux symptoms to worsen.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of big meals can help alleviate symptoms of heartburn, nausea, and acid reflux. Avoid smoking, since smoking can cause the esophageal sphincter to become weak or malfunction.
Eating less than two hours before bedtime can cause supine acid reflux.
Three types of treatments are available to help relieve symptoms for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux. The first involves changes to diet and lifestyle, the second requires medications, and the third involves surgery.
Sometimes, altering sleeping positions can help alleviate symptoms. Studies reveal that raising the head can help relieve symptoms. The head must be raised enough to prevent gastric juices from flowing back down the esophagus to the stomach.
Losing weight can help alleviate symptoms among people who are obese. People with obesity in the abdominal areas should avoid tight-fitting clothing. Smokers should quit smoking.
Medications that are commonly prescribed for acid reflux include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, prokinetics, mosapride citrate, and sucralfate. Different medications will help different kinds of symptoms among patients. Medications will vary in effectiveness for all patients, and a doctor's expert advice is necessary for choosing the right combination of drugs.
Some patients respond well to over-the-counter heartburn medications such as antacids and H-2 receptor blockers. Some medications can prevent acid production altogether. Common side effects of these types of medication include constipation and diarrhea. If these medications do not work, then a stronger, prescription medication is necessary. Commonly prescribed medications include proton pump inhibitors and medications that strengthen a weak esophageal sphincter. Patients may need to take one medication, a combination of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, or no medicine at all.
Surgical treatments include Nissen fundoplication, a procedure where the top part of the stomach is moved to support the sphincter in order to prevent symptoms and fix a hiatal hernia. Another possible surgery is a transoral incisionless fundaplication (TIF), when a doctor uses a device to repair the connection between the stomach and diaphragm.
The doctor may perform surgery to strengthen the esophageal sphincter or create a barrier to prevent the backup of stomach acid.