Acid Reflux, what is it and what can you do once it happens?
Acid reflux is a very common disease that presents itself with heartburn. A pain that starts in your lower chest and goes up through your esophagus. The acid content in your stomach known as hydrochloric acid flows up. This acid is in charge of breaking down food you eat and protecting your stomach against harmful bacteria. The muscle that prevents food coming up back through the esophagus and thus the acid is called the gastroesophageal sphincter. When this valve fails, the stomach content is regurgitated back into your food pipe and that’s when the heartburn is felt.
What are the risk factors?
Anyone can feel a heartburn, but you are most likely to feel them more frequently if you are a smoker, are overweight don’t exercise regularly and use certain medications such as antidepressants, sedatives and drugs for asthma. So, it all comes down to changing your lifestyle if you want to never feel them again.
Certain foods like caffeine, chocolate, sodas, alcohol, high salt intake, low dietary fiber intake and eating large proportions of meals will increase the chances of you getting a heartburn. Other foods that can trigger a heartburn are fatty or fried foods, garlic, onions and citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges, tomato sauce and peppermint are included as well. Pay close attention to these certain types of food and try to avoid them as much as you can.
How can you balance your acid reflux?
There are natural remedies that can help you control your acid levels. First of all, life style changes. First things first, change your diet. If you know certain foods produce you acid reflux, well, it is best to avoid them. Try to include in your diet fresh fruits and vegetables and include probiotics in your diet found for example in yogurt. Probiotics help your natural “good” bacteria found in your stomach balance the acid that it contains. Certain digestive enzyme supplements can hep you fight those dreadful heart-burns as well.
Aloe vera is commonly known to soothe an upset stomach so be sure to use it if you start feeling the sensation of a heartburn.
Avoid lying down 3 hours after a meal, after you do decide it is time for bed, use a pillow to elevate your head to avoid food and acid regurgitation.
Recent studies from the Mayo clinic suggest certain herbs to treat the heartburn once it starts such as chamomile, licorice and slippery elm.
Avoid wearing tight clothes that put unnecessary pressure on your abdomen, so loosen up those belts and tight jeans.
What to do if everything else fails?
Once the damage is made, first you need to visit a doctor so that exams can be made and see if the acid reflux you feel is something more serious than what you expect.
Over the counter remedies may help if you experience them once in a while such as antacids. They provide fast relief, but they are only short-term medicines so it’s best to always seek professional help if you suffer heart-burns constantly.
Main treatment options that a doctor will prescribe are first, H2 blockers such as ranitidine, taken twice a day in the morning and at night. The most prescribed are the PPI’s which are proton pump inhibitors. For them to work correctly take them 30 minutes before breakfast.
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