Acid reflux (AR) is a symptom of GORD gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Stomach acid travels back to the throat because the band of muscle separating the stomach from the oesophagus is weak. Stomach acid causes the burning sensation in your chest.
If you have acid reflux occasionally it is not generally a cause for concern. It often follows excess eating or drinking and is commonly known as indigestion. If it is a regular occurrence your lifestyle may have to change or it could be an indication of an underlying health condition.
Sometimes acid reflux symptoms are so severe that it requires medical intervention. Here are some questions and answers relating to acid reflux to provide a greater understanding of the condition.
Are Acid Reflux, Indigestion And Heartburn The Same?
Indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux are all used to describe the burning sensation of stomach acid in our chest. Although the symptoms are similar the definitions of the conditions are slightly different. Acid reflux is a symptom of GORD where stomach acid travels up to the throat. Indigestion and heartburn are symptoms of acid reflux. Heartburn describes the unpleasant burning sensation you feel in your chest. Indigestion occurs after eating a heavy meal or trigger foods. These are only two symptoms of acid reflux and not necessarily related to GORD.
What Are The Symptoms Of AR?
Heartburn and acid indigestion are the most common symptoms of acid reflux but there are many more. Symptoms include; bitter taste in your mouth, bloating, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, stomach pains and a persistent cough. Nausea and vomiting are also uncomfortable symptoms. Some people’s symptoms are sporadic while others suffer from it chronically.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
The condition is caused by stomach acid travelling up the oesophagus from the stomach. Lifestyle choices and certain foods also trigger the condition. The types of foods that trigger it include; chocolate, coffee, alcohol, fatty and spicy foods. While smoking, being overweight, stress, anti-inflammatories, anxiety, pregnancy and a hiatus hernia are causes of acid reflux.
How Do You Avoid AR?
You can relieve the symptoms by; eating smaller portions, weight loss, sleeping in a sitting position, avoid stress. Don’t eat just before bedtime, avoid trigger foods, wear loose clothing, stop smoking and drinking. Talk to your doctor if your prescription medicine is causing the problem.
What If Over The Counter Treatment Doesn’t Work?
Over the counter indigestion tablets treat mild indigestion and acid reflux. If this does not work your doctor will prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These work by reducing acid production and relieving symptoms. Common side effects include; headaches, stomach ache and nausea. Rare side effects include; swelling ankles, lack of sleep, dizziness, skin rashes and feeling unwell. Your doctor will prescribe PPIs if they are suitable for you.
Does AR Cause Cancer?
Many people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease have mild symptoms which is nothing to worry about. However persistent symptoms may lead to Barrett's oesophagus which causes changes to the cells in the oesophagus. These changes may increase your risk of cancer. If you do have chronic symptoms you must see your doctor to arrange tests so that the precancerous cells don’t become cancerous.
If you have any concerns about your condition you must visit your doctor. To review and purchase treatment for acid reflux please click here.