Acid reflux is the condition where the acids from your stomach surge back into your esophagus, causing pain commonly known as heartburn. There have been a lot of misconceptions about acid reflux and heartburn. Actually, the reflux is the action, while the feeling of pain and discomfort describes the latter.
Our stomach naturally produces gastric juices and enzymes which are used in digesting all the food we intake. While the inside of the stomach is made up of inner linings that protect it from the effects of acids, the esophagus, however, does not have this kind of protection. For general information, the esophagus is the tube that connects the stomach and the pharynx, which is behind the throat. The esophageal sphincter which is the joint where the esophagus and the stomach meet has a valve that prevents the gastric juices from flowing up into the tube. At any case that this valve is weakened, acids and enzymes have direct access to the esophagus creating a very painful sensation.
- Asthma – High pressure changes happen in the chest during asthma attacks. These changes in pressure cause the acids to flow back to the esophagus.
- Heartburn – This is the burning sensation coming from the stomach towards the neck.
Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, the tendency to vomit and even dental erosion.
There are a lot of factors that causes this kind of situation. This usually happens when the valve or the lower esophageal sphincter is not capable of preventing the acids from rising up. But, there are also certain reasons or conditions that cause this valve to not function properly. Among these is pregnancy, eating large meals, hiatus hernia, peptic ulcers, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
When a woman is pregnant, the increasing growth of the baby also increases the pressure in the stomach, resulting in a flow back of acids. Eating too much or drinking too much alcohol also adds up to the causes of reflux. If you have peptic ulcers or your stomach doesn’t have sufficient digestive enzymes, the digestive process will slow down causing an accumulation of gastric acids that may flow back to the esophagus. Researches have also shown that smoking increases the production of stomach acids, slows down digestion and weakens the esophageal sphincter.
To be able to prevent acid reflux, you should practice good eating habits. Being healthy means taking care of your body and this includes eating right. You should also be aware of foods and drinks that might trigger it such as spicy foods, sour fruits and alcohol. As for treating acid reflux, there are a lot of medications that will be very helpful such as acid suppressants, propton pump inhibitors, and antiacids.