Acid reflux is a common condition that almost everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. It refers to the process of stomach acid or food flowing back into the esophagus from the stomach because the muscle controlling the passage between the two does not close completely. The medical term for this is gastroesophageal reflux. This condition can lead to pain in the chest commonly referred to as heartburn.
If acid reflux occurs frequently, at least twice a week, then the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), which can result in a lot of damage to the intestinal tract.
If you suffer from acid reflux on a regular basis, you should visit a physician as soon as possible to prevent it from damaging your gastrointestinal system. We recommend these Internal Medicine specialist in Lahore for those of you that need one in that city.
As mentioned above, acid reflux is the backflow of acid into the esophagus. The stomach acid that makes its way back up is hydrochloric acid, which is classified as a strong acid. Your stomach is lined with cells that are good at protecting against this acid, but the esophagus does not have that benefit and is negatively affected by it.
Though you might now know what acid reflux is, you might be wondering what caused it to happen in the first place. There are three main contributors to developing acid reflux: delayed emptying of the stomach, improper clearance of food from the esophagus, and too much acid in the stomach. Certain foods and dietary habits that have been linked to acid reflux include:
- Consuming a large quantity of food at once
- Lying down shortly after eating a large meal (within 2-3 hours)
- High intake of salt
- Consuming alcohol or smoking tobacco
- Consuming chocolate, carbonated drinks, and acidic juices
- Low fiber intake
Apart from dietary concerns, there are other factors that may increase the likelihood of having acid reflux. These include:
- Hiatal Hernia: A hole in the diaphragm that would allow the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity.
- Little to no physical exercise
- Medications: Certain medications like calcium-channel blockers, antihistamines, sedatives, painkillers, and antidepressants can potentially affect the muscle preventing passage of the acid.
- Pregnancy: The pressure incurred by the pregnancy can lead to acid being pushed up from the stomach.
Though there are medications available for treating acid reflux, they are not necessary unless one’s condition is very severe. Other treatment options involve dietary and lifestyle changes. These include:
- Avoiding foods and consumables such as those mentioned above, as well as fatty and spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, tea, and mint.
- Avoiding strenuous exercise or laying down for a few hours after eating food.
- Eating food in smaller amounts and more frequently, rather than having three large meals a day.
- Sleep on an incline so that gravity prevents the acid from flowing backwards.
- Lose weight if a physician believes your weight is contributing to your negative condition.
If these do not yield results, you may have to resort to medications under supervision of a physician. These include:
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) such as rabeprazole, and esomeprazole, which are the most used medications
- H2 blockers such as cimetidine
- Alginate drugs
PPIs and H2 blockers decrease acid production and reduce the damaging effect of acid reflux.
If you think you can benefit from medications to treat your acid reflux, we recommend you consult a professional before using any. These Internal Medicine Specialist in Karachi are great options.