Acid reflux symptoms can range from mild heartburn to pain so bad you think you may be having a heart attack. Knowing what causes acid reflux can help you get relief from the symptoms.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach are pushed back up into the esophagus. Stomach contents contain acid and enzymes, which can damage the lining of the esophagus, and which cause the symptoms of heartburn.
What causes Acid Reflux?
There is a small muscle between the esophagus and the stomach that forms a barrier between them. Normally, the muscle relaxes and opens the entry into the stomach when you swallow, so that food can pass into your stomach. After the food goes into your stomach, the muscle contracts and closes off the entrance.
In acid reflux, the muscle relaxes and allows stomach contents to go backward, back up into the esophagus
Are there risk factors for Acid Reflux?
Yes. The risk factors for acid reflux include:
• Hiatal hernia
• Asthma (it’s unclear if this is actually a risk factor, or if asthma and acid reflux are related in some other way, but they often go together)
• Peptic Ulcer
• Delayed stomach emptying
• Connective tissue disorders
• Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
What are the symptoms of Acid Reflux?
• A burning sensation in your chest or throat.
• Sour or bitter taste in your mouth.
The symptoms of acid reflux also have a few special characteristics:
• They usually get worse when you lie down or bend over.
• Eating usually makes them worse.
• Certain foods make them worse.
• Antacids usually help.
• Exercise doesn’t usually make the symptoms either better or worse.
The symptoms of acid reflux may mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. If you experience pain or burning in your chest and/or throat, sweating and/or shortness of breath, call 911. DO NOT waste time trying to figure out if it’s serious or not. It’s important to get treatment for heart attack as soon as possible. DO NOT drive yourself to the doctor’s office or hospital.
What can I do to get relief from Acid Reflux?
1. Use antacids or over-the-counter medications for heartburn and acid indigestion. Sodium bicarbonate is not recommended because it contains too much sodium.
2. Eat smaller meals.
3. Don’t lie down for at least 45 minutes after eating
4. Watch your diet. Fatty foods, spicy foods, onions, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine-containing beverages, alcohol and carbonated beverages frequently cause acid reflux. Pay attention to the things that cause you to have indigestion, and eliminate them from your diet.
5. Raise the head of your bed. This may keep you from waking up at night with indigestion.
6. Lose weight.
7. Stop smoking.
8. Talk to your doctor about your medications, including prescriptions and any vitamins or minerals you take. Avoid taking aspirin or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.
Knowing what causes acid reflux helps you decide what changes you can make to get relief from the symptoms today.
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