Acid reflux is a condition where the stomach juices full of acid gets into the esophagus. It is a relatively common occurrence and many people have already felt and suffered from this condition. Other names for this condition include heartburn or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Causes of Acid Reflux
When food is swallowed, it enters the esophagus and it is propelled into the stomach by waves of muscular contractions called peristalsis. The stomach’s job in digestion is to break down the food particles using the stomach juices that are full of enzymes and acids. The stomach is designed for this job and it is well protected from the effects of these acids. The problem comes if these juices get back into the esophagus, because the esophagus is not designed to handle this acid.
There are a number of mechanisms that protect the esophagus, the most important of which is the lower esophageal sphincter. A sphincter is a band of muscle. Think of it as a very tight and powerful elastic rubber band. It opens to allow food in and then closes. The peristalsis that was described above is another mechanism because it is constantly pushing food down.
Heartburn can affect people of all ages, although older people tend to have more serious condition than younger. Acid reflux is more likely to occur when a heavy meal is eaten and then the person lies down or bends over at the waist. Acid reflux occurs when the protective mechanisms that protect the esophagus fail. One example is the weakening of the sphincter muscle.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Heartburn can affect people of all ages, although older people tend to have more serious condition than younger. Acid reflux is more likely to occur when a heavy meal is eaten and then the person lies down or bends over at the waist. Pregnant women in their third trimester are likely to get more acid reflux because the uterus is putting pressure on the stomach.
Obesity and asthma seems to also be important in the development of acid reflux. Smoking reduces sphincter muscular function, increases the secretion of acid, impairs muscular reflexes in the throat and damages the lining of the esophagus. When the acidic stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, the person will experience pain in the chest area and throat. They may also feel that there is acid in the esophagus.
Acid reflux that happens at night may cause more severe pain than the acid reflux that happens during the day. The symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn, which is a burning sensation that spreads from the stomach and regurgitation or the feeling of liquid backing up in the throat.
Foods to Avoid With Acid Reflux
Dietary modifications include avoiding fatty and spicy foods, eating less acidic foods like those based on citrus or tomato and to limit alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, peppermint and dairy products. Don’t eat large meals, which tend to increase pressure in the stomach and lead to reflux. All of the above are foods to avoid with acid reflux.