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Acid reflux

C. A. V. Nogueira, M.D. |
Acid reflux is a disorder that affects a large number of people regardless of their age, health status or gender. In fact, we all experienced that sensation at least once in life.

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You may encounter terms "Acid reflux" and "GERD" and many think they are synonyms, but those terms are not necessarily interchangeable. If stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat and stomach, then it's acid reflux.

Acid reflux is more specifically known as gastroesophageal reflux. During an episode of acid reflux, you may taste regurgitated food or sour liquid at the back of your mouth or feel a burning sensation in your chest.

However, sometimes acid reflux may progress to GERD, a more severe form of reflux. The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn. Other signs and symptoms may include regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, and chest pain especially when you are lying on the bed at night.

Although every woman and man may experience acid reflux, the pregnant woman and infants are more prone to this disorder. There are many causes for acid reflux. Some strong medications can result to cause reaction to force the stomach acids to re-flow back to our mouth. The disorder may be the result of eating too much foods rich with fat, spicy, caffeine or alcohol. Even onions and garlic are considered foods that are connected with acid reflux.

The drastic changes within a body can also cause acid reflux. This usually happens when a woman is pregnant; people who have diabetes are more sensitive to this condition, people who have gained weight drastically are also in danger for acid reflux.

The mild form of the disorder is not a big deal, but if left untreated it can cause serious complication. Chronic inflammation in your esophagus can lead to narrowing of the esophagus. Damage to cells in the lower esophagus from acid exposure leads to formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue narrows the food pathway, causing difficulty swallowing. The other consequence my can be an open sore in the esophagus - esophageal ulcer. Stomach acid can severely erode tissues in the esophagus, causing an open sore to form. The esophageal ulcer may bleed, cause pain and make swallowing difficult.

The most severe consequence is precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus). In Barrett's esophagus, the colour and composition of the tissue lining the lower esophagus change. These changes are associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. The risk of cancer is low, but your doctor will recommend regular endoscopy exams to look for early warning signs of esophageal cancer.

So, what can be done? As is the case in many disorders, lifestyle changes may help greatly. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus. If you are going to fitness remember that you should not lose more than 0, to 1 kilogram a week. Then, avoid tight clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.

Naturally, avoid foods that trigger heartburn. Everyone has specific triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion and caffeine may make heartburn worse. Don't lie down after a meal - wait at least two to three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed. And if you have frequent acid reflux stop smoking. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.

Acid reflux is a condition that can be eliminated almost completely just by changing the lifestyle. So, live healthy and don't let acid reflux to develop into GERD. Than, the story is completely different and heavier.


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