Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease

Acid reflux disease also referred to as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common medical condition that afflicts thousands of people. Though it is not a life threatening condition; it can cause immense uneasiness and discomfort. Acid reflux disease occurs when the digestive juices from the stomach pour out into the esophagus (gullet or food pipe). The acidic content of the stomach juices damage the fine tissues lining the esophagus; causing irritation and heartburn. The incessant flow of stomach juices into the esophagus erodes the tissue lining causing severe damage that results in ulcers.

Plausible Reason for Acid Reflux

All medical conditions have a probable reason and the same is true for reflux acid disease as well. When we eat food it passes through the esophagus and enters the stomach. Muscular fibers present at the mouth of the stomach (cardiac sphincter) tighten around the stomach opening; keeping the contents of the stomach trapped within. Sometimes the cardiac sphincter loses its ability to tighten and close the mouth of the stomach; this causes food and acid from the stomach to flow back into the esophagus leading to severe acidity and burning sensation in the region.

Common Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease

Heartburn

Heartburn can sometimes be caused due to inactivity or overeating. However, if one often suffers from unexplained heartburn it could be a symptom of acid reflux disease. Repeated incidents of heartburn should be reported to a physician as early as possible. Neglecting the condition can create more problems as the stomach acids easily damage the delicate tissues around the cardiac sphincter forming painful ulcers in the region.

Hoarseness of Voice

Individuals suffering from this disease often get a hoarse voice as the acidic stomach juices cause inflammation of the vocal chords and voice box. The inflamed vocal chords make the voice sound hoarse. Some individuals may complain of pain in the throat while speaking.

Other symptoms which warrant a visit to the physician are -A constant burning sensation just below the breastboneA feeling of food sitting in the gulletPain when trying to speakPain while swallowingUnexplained pain in the esophagus and abdomen while lying down, bending over or lifting weighty itemsA feeling of queasiness while eating or immediately after a mealCoughing, hiccups or difficulty while swallowingWorsening of the above symptoms especially at night or after a late mealGetting temporary relief from antacids

External Factors that Lead to Acid Reflux

While it is understood that the inability of the stomach to hold the acidic juices leads to the condition, there are a number of causes that affect the muscle fibers to lose their tightening grip.

Alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcohol can weaken the sphincter muscles and relax the fibers such that they are unable to tighten and close the stomach opening. The gastric contents escape the stomach and enter the gullet, causing pain and acidity.

Obesity – Being overtly overweight can also be a cause for this problem. The fat in the abdomen can sometimes press against the stomach and make it shift above the diaphragm. This adds pressure on the stomach causing it to release the content.

This symptom is commonly experienced by pregnant women however, it is a temporary condition.

Medication – Certain medicines have a tendency to force the stomach to go into spasm or cause the muscles of the cardiac sphincter to relax. It causes the stomach to release the acid into the gullet.

Stress – Individuals under extreme stress can at times produce excessive stomach juices that can induce acid reflux.

Medication for Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a disease that can be controlled through medication. Some medicines help in reducing acid production in the stomach, while others control the quantity of acid that gets released in the stomach.

Classifications of the Various Medications

Proton Pump Inhibitors – Production of stomach acids is a natural function necessary for digestion. Some individuals produce excessive amounts especially while they are stressed out or after ingesting certain foods or medicines. Proton pump inhibitors can reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. Some of the universally prescribed proton pump inhibitors are Aciphex, Prevacid and Prilosec.

Antagonists or H2 Blockers – These medicines have the capacity to reduce the quantity of acid the stomach releases. The controlled release of stomach acid is a good way of controlling acidity and heart burn. Axid, Pepcid, Tagament and Zantac are H2 Blockers most commonly prescribed to alleviate acid reflux.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help Cure Acid Reflux

Sometimes healthy living and a few lifestyle changes is all it takes to be rid of acid reflux disease. Individuals who experience mild symptoms as explained above can incorporate a few changes in their lives to fight the disease. Integrating a few changes in dietary habits and making exercise a regular part of one’s regime can bring about radical changes. Some of the changes that can help make a major improvement are -Losing weightAvoiding foods that make the stomach produce extra acidHaving an early dinnerNot lying down immediately after a mealAvoiding alcoholEating smaller mealsAvoiding overeatingEating healthy meals made from natural unprocessed foodsAvoiding fried foodsAvoiding spicy foods

Seeking Medical Assistance

Acid reflux disease can become a serious problem if precautions are not adhered to or the condition is left ignored. Excessive flow of acidic juices from the stomach can severely damage the cardiac sphincter causing it to bleed.

It is an emergency situation if the patient begins vomiting blood. The patient should be given immediate medical assistance. Passing black tarry stools is another sign that there is internal bleeding. The probable cause could be ruptured ulcers. The patient should consult a physician at the earliest.

Overview

Acid reflux can cause discomfort, pain, heartburn, nausea and bleeding. If any of these symptoms persist, it is advisable to see a doctor. Doctors prescribe medication after proper analysis. Continuing with the medication can keep the symptoms at bay.

Do not try self medication or use over the counter antacids. Antacids are known to alter the PH levels in the body which could add to your woes.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle as it could be the best cure to the problem.

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