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What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition that occurs when acid backs up from your stomach into the esophagus, irritating the lining of your esophagus. The acid in your mouth may cause a burning sensation in your chest or throat. Certain foods and beverages can cause too much acid production in the stomach. For some people, it may result because of lying down soon after a meal, bending over after a meal, or when measures such as diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough. Nevertheless, you should consult with your doctor if you feel like having reflux diseases. Effective acid reflux treatment can help manage your symptoms and get rid of your problem.

How do you feel during heartburn?

The most common symptoms of reflux diseases include:

  • Burning sensation in the chest that radiates to the back, throat, or mouth
  • A sour taste in the mouth after heartburn
  • Belching and passing gas

What foods are good for acid reflux?

Diet can play a significant role in managing your condition and prevent the worsening of symptoms. Following foodstuffs can help-

  • Bananas

A whole banana is best, as opposed to just banana juice.

  • Carrots

Chew carrots; do not swallow them whole.

  • Ginger

They are traditionally used in Asia to relieve heartburn. You can get them at Asian markets and most grocery stores in the spice aisle.

  • Milk or ice cream

Both milk and ice cream slow down stomach emptying. It is best to eat them when lying down.

  • Rice

Digesting rice will take up to 6 hours, so eating rice before bed can be very helpful.

  • Water

Drinking water helps fight chest pain by washing it away and keeping the esophagus moist. Avoid drinking acidic juices, such as orange juice or lemonade. They can actually worsen acid reflux symptoms.

  • Yogurt

It contains “good” bacteria, which help fight the “bad” bacteria that cause stomach acid. Drink yogurt at least an hour after any other food to avoid worsening acid reflux.  However, taking yogurt right before bed is best.

Adding these foodstuffs to your diet can assist in acid reflux treatment and manage your condition.

What foods are bad for acid reflux?

Foods that may increase the risk of GERD include:

  • Alcohol

Alcohol relaxes the LES, which can lead to acid reflux. If you drink alcohol, avoid it during taking your meal or 2 hours after a meal if you feel heartburn coming on.

  • Citrus fruits and juices

Citrus fruits and juices may worsen acid reflux symptoms.

  • Caffeinated drinks

Caffeine is a stimulant, which increases the pressure of the Lower Esophagus Sphincter. It can lead to critical heartburn.

  • Carbonated beverages

These drinks add air into your digestive tract that can cause gas and bloating, which might lead to acid reflux.

  • Chocolate and peppermint

These dietary factors make symptoms of GERD worse in some people.

  • Fatty or fried foods

Fat accumulates in the stomach, which can cause heartburn by putting pressure on the LES. It is especially true if you are prone to reflux anyway.

  • Gravy and sauces with fat added to them

Fatty gravies, greasy foods, and sauces increase pressure on the stomach.

  • High-sugar foods

Bacteria in your stomach easily ferment foods high in sugar, causing gas that can trigger heartburn.

  • Onions and garlic

In some people, onion and garlic can cause irritation to the lower esophagus sphincter. In addition, spicy and highly acidic foods such as those with vinegar or tomatoes also play the same role.

Avoiding such foods and drinks can support your acid reflux treatment and lead you to a better life.

What are effective acid reflux remedies?

  • Keep your head up

Elevate your head by 5 to 6 inches while sleeping or resting after meals with an extra pillow. Gravity helps keep stomach acids down in your stomach where they belong. It may also help prevent nighttime reflux.

  • Avoid tight clothing

Tight clothing may put pressure on your stomach, which can lead to GERD. Remove tight belts and jewelry around your waist or midsection before bedtime.

  • Manage your body weight

Being overweight puts extra pressure on the stomach, which may cause it to produce more acid and then reflux into your esophagus.

  • Eat less

Eat small portions at a time to prevent overeating. Moreover, eating slowly can give the gastric juices time to digest your food and do their job.

  • Do not exercise just after your meal

Divide the time for eating and exercising. It will help empty your stomach completely during a meal and avoid the pressure, which may cause acid reflux.

  • Avoid bending down

Avoid bending over, as it puts pressure on your stomach, which might increase the chance of heartburn after meals.

  • Cut off alcohol consumption

If you drink alcohol, do it 2 hours after a meal if you feel heartburn coming on. Moreover, quitting smoking can also be very helpful. You can replace alcoholic drinks with water or club soda.

  • Chew food thoroughly

Partially digested food can be regurgitated more easily. By chewing your food thoroughly, you reduce the chances of reflux diseases after eating.

If you are constantly experiencing acid reflux, talk to your doctor about well-working acid reflux treatment such as prescription medication, changes in diet, weight loss, and surgery, depending on the severity of the case.  

What else can help?

Other herbal remedies include ginger, cardamom, cumin, baking soda, or fennel. Herbal supplements often combine extracts from different herbs. They are used to reduce the symptoms of GERD and calm your stomach muscles. However, it is significant to talk with your doctor before taking any herbal medicines.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid, which can sometimes rise up into the food pipe (esophagus). It happens because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a circular band of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus, loses its tightness. When this occurs, it allows the stomach contents to move back up into the food pipe. Severe condition of reflux issues called Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

There are a number of things that can cause GERD, but as we grow older, some natural changes occur, which may make us more likely to have this problem. Suitable acid reflux treatment can help get over your uneasiness. However, the following things cause the condition-

  • Reduction in the production of hydrochloric acid

Our body makes less stomach acid with the growing age. As a result, digestion gets slow, and it takes more time for the acid to move up into the esophagus.

  • The weakening of muscles

As we get older, our bodies do not work as efficiently, and sometimes systems wear out. For example, with age, stomach muscles can become weaker and less flexible, leading to a loss of LES tone.

  • The decrease in the production of bicarbonate

Bicarbonate-producing cells are replaced less frequently, and there is a drop in bicarbonate production in the stomach. The chemical counteracts stomach acid. Therefore, its low proportion can cause leakage of stomach acid into the esophagus.

  • Altered blood flow to the lower esophageal sphincter

The muscles in our body begin to lose their elasticity, including those that surround your lower esophagus. As the stomach valve weakens, it is harder to maintain its tone, and it becomes more likely that stomach acid will flow back up into your food pipe.

What medications can help in acid reflux treatment?

  • H2 receptor blockers

H2 receptor blockers reduce the production of acid in the stomach. They are often used to relieve pain and discomfort resulting from acid reflux.

  • Antacids

Antacids are prepared from alkaline chemicals or compounds that act by neutralizing the stomach acids. These alkaline substances include magnesium oxide, aluminum hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium carbonate. You can take these medications with an H2 receptor blocker because they can enhance results if used together.

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

Proton pump inhibitors can relieve heartburn. They trim down the proportion of acid produced in the stomach. Omeprazole and lansoprazole are well-known medications for PPIs.

Some of the most recommended medications are-

  • Cimetidine

Cimetidine is also known as Tagamet and runs under brand names such as Axid, Tagamet HB, and Zitac. The medication can effectively help in acid reflux treatment. It belongs to the class of medications known as histamine-2 receptor antagonists, which work by suppressing the effects of histamine. Histamine is a chemical capable of causing spasms in smooth muscles such as the muscle tissue present in the linings of blood vessels and organs like the stomach, intestines, and respiratory tracts. By suppressing histamine’s effect, cimetidine thus reduces the production of stomach acid.

  • Ranitidine

It known as Zantac and runs under brand names such as Ranexa, Axid AR, and Pylorid, belongs to the medication class of H2 receptor antagonists, which work by blocking histamine’s action on stomach cells responsible for producing acid. By blocking histamine’s action, ranitidine diminishes the making of stomach acid.

  • Famotidine

Another name of famotidine is Pepcid. It runs under brand names such as Novo-Pepcid AC and belongs to the medication group of H2 receptor antagonists, which work by blocking histamine’s action on stomach cells responsible for producing acid. Famotidine obstructs histamine’s act and cuts off the stomach acid.

  • Pantoprazole

Pantoprazole also runs under brand names such as Protonix and Pantoloc. It belongs to the drug class of proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach.

  • Esomeprazole

This medicine is a proton pump inhibitor that is very effective in acid reflux treatment. It trims down the quantity of acid produced in the stomach. Moreover, the drug also stops acid pumps on cells in your stomach from producing acid.

  • Omeprazole

Another well-working medication belonging to the PPIs drug class is Omeprazole. It cuts off the amount of acid produced in the stomach and prevents acid pumps on cells in your stomach from producing acid. By inhibiting these pumps, the medication reduces acid production.

  • Lansoprazole

Lansoprazole is a part of proton pump inhibitors. It works as omeprazole and esomeprazole, i.e., by dropping the quantity of acid produced in the stomach. Lansoprazole also hinders acid pumps on cells in your stomach to produce acid. By inhibiting these pumps, lansoprazole reduces acid production.

  • Nelfinavir

Nelfinavir is a protease inhibitor that belongs to the class of medications known as antiretroviral agents that work by inhibiting the replication of HIV. By inhibiting the replication of HIV, nelfinavir reduces the amount of HIV present in your body and helps acid reflux treatment.

The medication also increases gastric pH levels that gradually result in decreased acid secretion by suppressing hydrogen-potassium ATPase enzymes in the gastric parietal cells of the stomach. By suppressing these enzymes, nelfinavir limits the amount of acid produced by these cells resulting in decreased acid secretion.

  • Ritonavir

Ritonavir is also a protease inhibitor that belongs to the drug class of antiretroviral agents. It inhibits the replication of HIV and reduces the amount of HIV present in your body.

How can you prevent acid reflux?

Heartburn is twice as common in people aged 65 and older. It is also more prevalent among men than women, smokers than non-smokers, and those with a family history of the condition.

Acid reflux prevention depends on what is causing the problem. Managing heartburn is often a matter of following these steps-

• Quit smoking

• Lose weight if you are obese

• Avoid foods that trigger symptoms, such as fried or fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, and onions

• Eat smaller meals

• Do not sit back for somewhat three hours after taking your meal

• Raise the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches by propping up the head or foot with extra pillows. You can also use a foam wedge under the mattress

• Elevate your upper body when you are sitting, using pillows behind your back and neck

• Wear loose-fitting clothes

Along with using your acid reflux treatment, implement these preventive measures to bring successful results. They may also put the symptoms of GERD at bay and prevent complications.