A ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) exists at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. This muscle closes your esophagus as soon as food passes through the stomach. If this muscle is weak or doesn’t tighten properly the acid, and other stomach contents from your stomach can move backward into your esophagus. This is known as acid reflux.
ACID REFLUX CAUSES:
- A hiatal hernia [It is a condition when the upper part of the stomach protrudes up above the diaphragm (the strong muscle that separates the organs of the abdomen from those of the chest).]
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a heavy meal and then lying down
- Use of cigarettes
- Consumption of irritating foods or beverages
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- drinks with caffeine
ACID REFLUX SYMPTOMS:
- Heartburn [A burning sensation in your chest sometimes spreading to your throat with a sour taste of acid in your mouth
- Regurgitation of food
- Chest pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Dry cough
- Can’t eat certain foods
- Hoarseness or a sore throat
- Can’t drink certain liquids
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
ACID REFLUX DURING PREGNANCY:
Acid reflux is very common during pregnancy. Progesterone, the main hormone of pregnancy, slows your digestive system and causes heartburn during pregnancy. That, combined with the pressure of a growing baby, increases the possibility that acid in the stomach will get its way upward.
Since your digestion is slowed, you’re fuller; you’ve got less space in your stomach, so acid runs up to your esophagus. Besides you’ve also got a baby pressing on your stomach.
CHEST PAIN DUE TO ACID REFLUX:
The term “heartburn” is misleading. Actually, the heart has nothing to do with the pain. Heartburn occurs in the esophagus i.e. your digestive system. Heartburn involves mild to acute pain in the chest. It’s sometimes mistaken for angina or heart attack pain.
HOW BURNING CHEST PAIN (HEARTBURN) IS DIFFERENT FROM ANGINA CHEST PAIN:
The main difference between symptoms of heartburn and heart attack or Angina pain is that:
- Pain in angina generally starts with central-left of chest and way to shoulder, back and left arm. While chest pain in heartburn feels at center of the chest
- Angina pain often comes with other symptoms such as- cold sweat, short of breath, Feeling sick and Feeling very tired or lacking in energy
- Heartburn tends to be worse after meals and when lying down – although heart attack can happen after/before a meal, both
- Antacids or acid-reducing drugs can get relieved from Heartburn
- Heartburn does not cause more general symptoms like breathlessness
- Heart attack does not cause bloating or belching, but these can happen with heartburn
ACID REFLUX FOODS TO AVOID:
The foods that can trigger heartburn symptoms are:
- Spicy, fried, or fatty foods
- Citrus fruits and juices
- pasta sauce, and salsa
- Tomato-based foods such as pizza,
- Onions and garlic
- Mint flavorings
- Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks
- Coffee and tea (caffeinated or decaffeinated)
- Soda and other carbonated drinks
FOODS TO EAT IN ACID REFLUX:
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal is the best breakfast and any-time-of-day snack recommended.
- Ginger: In moderation, ginger is also one of the best food to reduce acid.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is famous as a natural healing agent and also seems to treat heartburn.
- Salad: You should eat a salad every day. The salad is a primary meal for acid refluxers, although onions and tomatoes should be avoided, as well as cheese and high-fat dressings.
- Banana: Bananas with pH 5.6 make a great snack, and they’re usually great for people with acidity.
- Melon: Melon (pH 6.1) is good for heartburn.
- Fennel: Fennel (pH 6.9) is a great food in the high acid formation and actually seems to improve stomach function.
- Fish and seafood: Seafood is another a healthy food. It should be baked, grilled, or sautéed, never fried.
- Roots and greens: Cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, and other greens are all great foods for the acid refluxer.
- Couscous and rice: Bulgur wheat, Couscous (semolina wheat), and rice (especially brown rice) are all outstanding foods for heartburn. (source: http://www.health.com)
ACID REFLUX TREATMENT:
Initial treatments to control heartburn
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments that may help control heartburn include:
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acid: Antacids, such as, Digene, Mucaine gel, Gelusil, Gaviscon neutralize stomach acid. They may provide quick but symptomatic relief. They cannot heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by acid reflux. The side effects of overuse of some antacids are diarrhea or constipation.
- Medications to reduce acid production: These are H-2-receptor blockers. These are the medicines to treat excess acid production in the stomach. These are over the counter or prescription medicines e.g. cimetidine, famotidine (famocid 20mg tab), or ranitidine (Zinetac 150 tab). These drugs are safe and can be taken without a prescription. One to two tablet in a day as an empty stomach is sufficient for an adult. Even after the problem persist or requirement reaches to more than twice in a month then talk to your doctor. H-2-receptor blockers act slower than antacids do, but they provide longer relief. H-2-receptor blockers may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours. Strong medications to reduce acid are available in prescription form.
(The above medicine you should keep in your First Aid Kit)
- Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus: Antacids or h-2 receptor blockers are the good options to get relief from acid reflux. If in few cases these don’t work, PPI is the best choice, but it should be taken under medical supervision. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) are stronger blockers of acid production than H-2-receptor blockers and allow time for the damaged esophageal lining to heal. Over-the-counter PPI includes lansoprazole (Lan 30), omeprazole (Omez 20), rabeprazole (Rablet 20) or pantoprazole (Pantocid 40).
WHEN TO CALL A DOCTOR:
Seek immediate medical attention if you have other signs and symptoms, such as chest pain with shortness of breath or jaw or arm pain. These may be the symptoms of a heart attack.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience severe or frequent acid reflux symptoms. If you take OTC medications for more than twice a week, see your doctor.
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