ACID REFLUX

ACID REFLUX - ARTICLES!

What Is Acid Reflux

What is Acid Reflux and Why do I Have It?

Acid reflux is also known as gastoesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs when heartburn becomes a frequent occurrence, happening two or more times a week.

Regular heartburn like this can become uncomfortable enough to get in the way of daily activities and even cause damage to the delicate lining of the esophagus.

For these reasons, most people who suffer from frequent bouts of heartburn will ask their doctor what acid reflux is and what they can do to treat it.

The Heartburn Process

When we eat, the food passes from our mouth and throat, into our esophagus. This long tube will send the food down to the stomach, where it is broken down by the digestive acids in this organ to be absorbed into the body as nutrients or eliminated from the body as waste.

To keep stomach acid where it belongs, there is a circular ring at the base of the esophagus known as the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. This LES contracts after food passes through so that it cannot return to the esophagus.

However, when the LES cannot close properly, food particles and stomach acids can indeed come back up.

The esophageal lining is not designed to withstand the harsh acid from the stomach, which is why the painful burning results. This is what acid reflux is, and the longer it goes unchecked, the greater the likelihood that actual damage to that lining can occur.

This damage can result in a condition known as Barrett's esophagus and increase the risk of esophageal cancer. While both of these conditions are relatively rare, it is still a good idea to understand what acid reflux is and how to treat it most effectively to avoid the risk completely.

Understanding Heartburn Triggers

The first step in understanding what acid reflux is will be to know why it occurs in the first place. Heartburn triggers can come in many shapes and sizes; from the foods we eat to the lifestyle choices we make. Common culprits include tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, garlic and onions.

Fried and fatty foods can also cause heartburn. Smoking, eating large meals and eating too close to bed are other potential triggers. For some, pinpointing the triggers and avoiding them are enough to keep acid reflux in check. For others, medication may be necessary to control the symptoms and the potential for damage.

There are many over the counter medications that will treat acid reflux, including H-receptor-blockers like Tagamet and Pepcid, and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec.

While different medicines work in different ways, the basic idea is to alter the stomach acid so it cannot back up the digestive tract and cause damage.

If you are suffering from frequent heartburn, it would be wise to talk to your doctor to find out what acid reflux is and how it can be treated.

 

 

 

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