Though it is a common problem, acid reflux disease is not to be taken lightly. Chest pains due to indigestion characterize one of the major symptoms of this disorder. Those who suffer from acid reflux must change their lives in order to stop experiencing symptoms. Many of those who experience acid reflux must sleep with their heads propped up to prevent from choking on stomach acid while they sleep. This is not the way most would choose to live. Others have had to change their diets entirely. Everybody with acid reflux disease wants to find relief but the most common solutions may not work for everybody.
There are several causes for this disease. Sometimes it is related to an underlying health issue, such as a hiatal hernia. A doctor will often look for some of these problems with persisting acid reflux. Most acid reflux results from a lifestyle choice, however. Those at higher risk for acid reflux are people who eat large meals, especially right before lying in bed. Many people will eat dinner and lie down to go to bed or to relax. They will feel the side effects right away. Obesity is another risk factor, in addition to eating certain foods. Anything that has too much spice or citrus may come with side effects. Drinks that are carbonated or caffeinated, like soda or coffee will also induce symptoms. Smoking cigarettes increases the odds of experiencing acid reflux. Pregnancy, a major risk factor, influences about half of all pregnant women.
It is common for acid reflux symptoms to be confused with symptoms related to other health conditions. The most prominent symptom is a painful burning in the cheat, also known as heartburn. Heartburn pain persists in the chest, especially after eating. It is the result of acid entering the esophagus when the sphincter separating it from the stomach does not hold up. After food passes through the sphincter, it does not close correctly. When this happens, the acid from the stomach will seep into the chest and create the burning sensation behind the heart. This symptom is typically accompanied by a burning in the throat and trouble swallowing. Heartburn should not occur in most people more than twice a week. Anything more than that and it becomes acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some people mistake the symptoms of acid reflux for symptoms of heart attacks. The chest pains can be alarming initially.
People who experience the symptoms of acid reflux disease typically have trouble falling asleep at night as a result. That is the reason many choose to elevate the head and chest, to make them higher than the stomach. Acid reflux can have terrible consequences for those who suffer from it. It is not uncommon for stomach acid to enter the mouth and tear enamel of off the teeth. If acid enters the mouth it can also result in regurgitation.
Many patients report to their doctors that they have experienced bloating, hiccuping, nausea, sore throat, and excessive burping. Dysphagia is not an uncommon symptom either. Dysphagia occurs when the esophagus becomes too narrow to swallow food correctly. The patient may feel as if food is getting stuck inside the throat or scraping against the sides. The food can also scratch the esophagus, causing permanent damage. The symptoms become progressively worse after eating a meal, especially a large one.
Pregnant women often report that they experience acid reflux disease. The disorder is a result of the increased amount of hormones women produce during their condition. The symptoms become worse as the pregnancy continues. The pressure that the weight of the fetus puts on the body does not help. Most women claim that they no longer experience the symptoms after they give birth.
Adults are not the only ones who experience GERD. Children and infants are prone to these symptoms as well. The symptoms, however, are slightly different. It is common for children and infants to experiencing intense vomiting that persists. Coughing and trouble breathing are also common in children. It is vital that a child exhibiting these symptoms be taken to a doctor as soon as a problem is suspected. Parents should also be on watch for children who do not gain enough weight to maintain a healthy standard.
If acid reflux disease is not maintained, it can lead to more serious health conditions. For example, the stomach acid may make its way into the lungs that can become persistently worse. In addition to a chronic sore throat, the esophagus may scar as a result of the narrowing of the esophagus. Difficulty swallowing can also become permanent if it is left unmaintained.
The swelling and irritation of the esophagus can evolve into Barrett’s Esophagus. Though it happens in the most extreme cases, untreated acid reflux can result in cancer in the lining of the esophagus. This happens when the acid from the stomach enters the esophagus as a result of the weak or open sphincter. The acid strips away or damages normal cells in the esophagus lining. As a result, they are replaced with abnormal cells that cause cancer. Most people with acid reflux disease will never develop cancer from Barrett’s Esophagus, but it is a possibility. That is why it is absolutely essential that somebody who suffers from this problem see a doctor to ensure that this has not happened to them.
Anytime that somebody is experiencing acid reflux or heartburn more than two times a week, it is time to see a doctor. A doctor may run tests to get a proper diagnosis. Most doctors will be able to hear the list of symptoms and determine that acid reflux disease is the problem. Some doctors, however, will order testing in case there is a serious underlying cause creating the symptoms. A doctor may choose to turn to an esophagram, where an x-ray is taken of the esophagus to check for ulcers or any narrowing. This allows the doctor to determine the amount of damage that may have been caused from acid. A doctor may also perform a test to determine the balance of the pH in the esophagus. A physician will want to determine that acid reflux disease is the main problem. Some doctors will choose to perform a biopsy to check for abnormalities. They may check for cancer in the lining of the esophagus as well.
Some patients will talk to a doctor about taking prescription drugs such as Prilosec or Prevacid to help treat acid reflux disease. While these medications may assist in temporarily relieving problems associated with acid reflux and heartburn, they d not cure the issue over a long period of time. The same can be said of over-the-counter treatments like Pepcid and Tums. While these medications are found at any pharmacy or drug store, they are not cures. They provide temporary relief for the symptoms, not the acid reflux itself. Many people who have used these medications claim that they typically work for two months to get rid of the symptoms. Eventually the symptoms come back. The medications also come with their own side effects, and some are similar to or worse than the symptoms of acid reflux. These may include headache, diarrhea, sore throat, and dizziness. Side effects of these medications also include increased production of gastrin. Gastrin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that communicates the need for the stomach to create more acid. While these medications may temporarily improve conditions, it is not safe to rely on them or use them for long periods of time.
Patients who begin taking acid reflux medications should contact the doctor if they do not improve symptoms after two weeks. It is also important to contact a doctor after experiencing bloody vomit, bloody stools, or symptoms that feel like an asthma attack while taking the medicine. That includes coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Some patients choose to get surgery to correct the problem if medication does not work. It is an extreme measure but it works for some. This surgery will tighten the sphincter that holds the acid back from entering the esophagus.
As far as lifestyle changes go, a patient with acid reflux disease may have to make a point of avoiding certain foods that trigger heartburn and other symptoms. This means no more citrus, like limes or lemons. Others may have to make the choice to avoid chocolate and peppermint. Tomatoes commonly result in chest pains. It may also include drinks such as alcohol, coffee, or soda. Other lifestyle changes can assist in putting an end to acid reflux symptoms. For instance, it is best to change a schedule so that there are at least two hours between dinner time and bedtime. This will give food time to digest properly. Losing weight benefits many patients. Since nicotine is known to weaken the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach, patients who quit smoking cigarettes report better results. Acid reflux is not necessarily preventable, but it can be maintained with careful diligence so that it does not have to have a negative effect on your life. Some people are able to keep from feeling symptoms by sleeping on the left side instead of on the back or right.
Many people are able to use food to maintain acid reflux. Some patients, for example, eat apples when they begin to feel symptoms. These natural remedies are beneficial because they are inexpensive. They also do not require frequent trips to the doctor and have very few side effects. Unlike prescription medications, natural remedies do not cause nausea and headaches. For more information on treatment and cures for acid reflux disease, be sure to visit Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com. Many people have had positive results with natural remedies that do not cost a fortune.