Acid is vital to the normal functioning of our digestive system, yet it is a cause for pain and discomfort for millions each year. In every person acid lives happily in the stomach in the form of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL), it is a useful tool in helping to break down food into smaller pieces so that all the nutrients can be easily absorbed. In most people this is a pretty straightforward process, but sometimes this acid which is beneficial to us can become a problem. GORD is short for gastro oesophageal reflux disease, this is due to the inability to control and contain the acid in the stomach. Quite often people will refer to it as heart burn, although this has nothing to do with the heart. This term is used to indicate the location of the burning sensation which is in the centre middle of the chest. The reason for this burning sensation is due to the acid in the stomach reaching outside itself and touching the oesophagus (food tube leading to stomach from the mouth). This acid then begins to irritate the lining of the oesophagus and the sensation is unpleasant. Continuous irritation by the acid of the oesophagus can lead to a condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus, this is when the cells of the throat are permanently damaged. It can be a very painful condition which is irreversible therefore its important to know when to get help.
Acid is normally kept within the stomach by a sphincter (a ring of muscle which opens and closes a tube) at the top of the stomach preventing any acid from going back up your throat. In some people this sphincter doesn’t work as It should, either it doesn’t close fully or doesn’t close at all. This means acid can easily go back up the throat causing discomfort. The stomach is lined with a special mucus which protects it from the acid preventing any burning and erosion. However, this mucus is not present on the oesophagus, when any acid touches the Oesophagus it immediately causes a burning sensation or as most would call it ‘Heart Burn’.
There are a few lifestyle changes you can make if you are suffering with acid reflux or indigestion, these include:
- Weight reduction
- Avoid heavy meals 2 hours before bedtime
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Avoid food which is too spicy
- Use two pillows at night to raise the head and keep any acid down
However, some of these lifestyle changes such as weight reduction can take time, so for intermittent relief there are some medicines which can help. Persistent acid reflux is not good for the body as discussed above, it can also lead to harmful oesophageal ulcers which can cause serious complications.
Here at SimplyMeds we offer a few different treatments which help with the above discomfort, these are Omeprazole, Lansoprazole and Esomeprazole. All three are a class of medication called Proton-pump Inhibitors or PPIs, this medicine helps to reduce the levels of acid produced by the stomach. To see if you are eligible for one of these treatments take a free consultation today.