Acid Reflux 101

Have you ever experienced that burning in your chest or throat? Maybe even that sour taste of regurgitated food? You lay down for bed at night and can’t sleep because these symptoms keep you wide awake? This is what acid reflux or GERD is. Around 60 million Americans suffer from acid reflux including babies, children, and adults.  

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What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux happens when the contents of your stomach come back up your esophagus. This causes a burning sensation often felt in the throat or chest. The term acid reflux refers to period episodes, whereas the term GERD refers to a more severe form of acid reflux that is long- lasting. GERD also can be accompanied by more symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, coughing, or wheezing.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of acid reflux or GERD include:

  • Pain in chest/ upper abdomen

  • Nausea/ vomiting

  • Problems swallowing

  • Bad breath

  • Respiratory problems

What causes acid reflux?

Often the biggest question is: what exactly causes acid reflux? Besides eating spicy foods and having a burning feeling in your chest, what causes it?

The esophagus is the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach, when the lower esophageal sphincter, gets weak or relaxes it allows stomach contents to get into the esophagus. So, the next question, what causes that sphincter to become weak or relax?

  •   Being overweight/ obese, or pregnant, because this increases pressure on your abdomen

  • Certain medications (asthma medications, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants)

  • Smoking

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How to help control symptoms?

Of course, there are medication options from over the counter antacids, to medications that lower the acid amount in your stomach, and even surgery.

Controlling symptoms of acid reflux often begin with lifestyle changes such as:

  •   Losing weight (if you’re overweight or obese)

  •   Stop smoking

  •   Avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to bedtime

  •   Eat small meals throughout the day versus large meals

  • Avoid spicy or greasy foods and alcoholic drinks

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