Stomach Acid Reflux

Stomach acid reflux is a condition that occurs when the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) is not able to work in the proper way. This allows acid from the stomach to make its way up to the esophagus. There are very many people who suffer from this for one reason or the other. Below you will find some vital information on the condition to help you understand it much better.

Symptoms

There are a number of signs that a person can use to know whether they are suffering from reflux. Some of the most common ones include:

Regurgitation- this is the sensation that a patient feels when the acid is backing up to make its way to the throat as well as the mouth. This can lead to the production of a sour or bitter taste where a person can experience a “wet burp” or even throw up.

Heartburn- a number of people mistake stomach acid reflux for heartburn. These are two different things; in fact heartburn is one of the major symptoms of the condition. Also referred to as acid indigestion heartburn can be described as discomfort or burning pain that can travel from the stomach to the chest or the lower abdomen. This pain can move further up to the throat. Despite the name heartburn, it is important to note that it does not in any way affect the heart.

Dyspepsia- this is a general term that is used for stomach discomfort and is one of the symptoms of stomach acid reflux. Some of the things that confirm a person is suffering from dyspepsia include upper abdominal discomfort/pain, burping, bloating/stomach fullness and experiencing nausea after taking meals.

When do the symptoms occur?

The above symptoms may be an indication that acid from the stomach has inflamed the esophagus. This can cause the bleeding when the lining is damaged. It is therefore important to make sure you do not ignore the symptoms but work on getting treatment and changing lifestyle so as to avoid further complications. This said, symptoms of stomach acid reflux mostly occur when a person is lying down mostly on the back

  • Lifting heavy objects.
  • Bending.
  • Consuming heavy meals.

Patients say that they mostly experience the symptoms at night more than during the day. It is also important to understand that there are some foods that need to be avoided when a person is experiencing the symptoms of the conditions such as:

  • Tomatoes.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Peppermint.
  • Chocolate.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Fried, spicy and fatty foods
  • Alcohol.
  • Caffeinated drinks.

Causes

There are quite a number of factors that can be documented when it comes to stomach acid reflux such as:

Existing medical conditions- some conditions that can cause a person to get reflux include obesity, rapid weight gain, diabetes, hiatal hernia and pregnancy.

Lifestyle- habits like poor posture where you are constantly slouching, taking alcohol and smoking can also cause the development of the reflux.

Eating habits- poor diet, eating large meal, eating just before you go to bed and eating very quickly can also cause the development of the condition.

Medications- there are a variety of medicines such as antihistamines, nitrates, theophylline, and calcium channel blockers can also trigger the condition.

Types of food- there are some foods that also encourage the development of the condition.

Treatment

When the condition is not so severe something simple like changing your lifestyle and eating right can relax the reflux. When this does not work, there are a couple of medications that patients can take like

Proton pump inhibitors- these are used to reduce production of stomach acid. They normally work on the cells responsible for this production.

Acid suppressant- these are mostly taken to reduce inflammation. Inflamed stomachs tend to produce more acid. Blocking this will prevent the building up of acids and the process of seeping back upwards.

Antacids- these are vital when it comes to neutralizing the acids found in the stomach.

Prokinetic agents- these are used to promote stomach emptying so that it does not become too full.

Home remedies that a person can decide to try are:

Eating at least 3 hours before they go to bed.

Avoiding lying down after having meals.

Elevating the head when sleeping.

Watching what goes into the mouth so as to avoid any triggers.

Sitting and standing upright.

Losing excessive weight and adhering to a healthy lifestyle.

When to see a doctor

If you are not getting any relief from the medications used to treat stomach acid reflux, it might be time to call in a professional doctor to know the right direction to follow. Some of the telltale signs that you should consult a professional doctor include:

Vomiting blood

Unexpected weight loss

Pain or difficulties when swallowing

Tarry, maroon or black stools

Hoarseness

Asthma

Hiccups that don’t seem to disappear

Chronic sore throat

Nausea that goes on and on

Severe chest pain

Diagnosis

Patients who suffer from stomach acid reflux symptoms for a long time might have to see a gastroenterologist who may have to conduct an upper GI series. This includes:

A series of X-rays on the esophagus, intestines and stomach is taken after the patient has taken a contrast liquid which helps the doctor to see the features better. This is sometimes referred to as barium swallow when a single contrast is used. Although this test gives fewer results than when an endoscopy is performed it is necessary to rule out other conditions like esophagus blockage or ulcers. When the expert feels like this is not enough they can go ahead and give the patient sedation. This allows them to use a tiny flexible camera that is passed down to throat for observation. This permits the doctor to see the extent of damage on the esophagus and also rule out any other serious complications. It is also important to note that the esophagus can appear normal when the condition is still in the mild stages. Incase there are any problems the doctors will prescribe the best mode of treatment on the spot.

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