Heartburn, Acid Reflux and GERD
It is a familiar feeling: the burning sensation in your chest after eating. It literally feels like your heart is burning. medical experts describe heartburn as a burning pain in your chest, just behind your breastbone.
What is Acid Reflux?
According to most medical research, heartburn is caused by acid reflux, or specifically, gastroesophagael reflux, which is the backward flow of the stomach acid into the esophagus. The terms are used interchangeably, but to make it clear, it is acid reflux that gives you that burning, bothersome feeling in your chest.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux:
Here are some of the classic acid reflux symptoms
Heartburn after a meal
Bloating after eating
Hiccups after eating
Developing a cough after eating
Sore throat after eating Wheezing
Causes of Acid Reflux?
Here are some causes of acid reflux:
Lying down on your back or bending over after a big meal
Eating too close to bedtime
Having a propensity for spicy and citrus foods
Drinking caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee
Everyone experiences acid reflux at one point or another. But if you find yourself having persistent acid reflux, constant heartburn, coupled with having difficulty swallowing with a burning throat, then you might have the severe form of acid reflux, called GERD.
What is GERD?
GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, (emphasis on the disease since this is the stage of persistent acid reflux) is the more advanced form of acid reflux, which usually has its roots in biological and structural problems in your stomach or esophagus.
What Causes GERD?
The causes of GERD can go even deeper than the burning sensation you feel:
Malfunctioning Lower Esophageal Sphincter Muscles (LES)
The LES is what serves as a protective barrier from the contents of the stomach, and is responsible for the opening and closing of the lower end of the esophagus. A weakened LES can cause the stomach acid to back up to the esophagus after the food empties into the stomach.
Some factors that can cause problems to the LES are weakened muscles, hormone problems, drugs, dietary substances, and problems to the nervous system.
Abnormalities in the Esophagus
Hoarseness, the feeling of having a lump in the throat, and a persistent cough are all symptoms of an abnormality in the esophagus. It could be Motility Abnormalities, or problems with spontaneous muscle action, or Adult-Ringed Esophagus, where rings found on the esophagus cause difficulty in swallowing.
Impaired Stomach Function
Abnormalities in muscle function prevent normal contractions of stomach muscles, causing a delay in the emptying of the stomach, which can lead to acid build-up.
The esophagus passes into the stomach through the hiatus, which is a small hole in the diaphragm. Any weakening or enlarging can cause the stomach muscles to protrude up into the chest and cause hiatal hernia. This non-threatening condition is normally diagnosed in people over 60 years of age. It prevents normal functioning of the LES muscle and increase GERD symptoms to those who already have GERD.
Acid reflux can also be inherited and passed on from parent to offspring, and so on. In the same way a weak stomach and esophageal muscles are inherited.
This bacterium is a major cause of peptic ulcers and is found in the mucus membranes of the stomach. For those who have GERD, it is very important to have this eradicated. H. Pylori and acid suppressing medication, when combined, can lead to cancer.
There are other more serious conditions that cause chronic acid reflux, so be sure to have yourself checked for diabetes, Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and lymphoma.
NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Drugs can cause peptic ulcers, which increase the likelihood or worsen the symptoms of GERD. These are the over the counter drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, iron pills; as well as prescription drugs, like antibiotics.
How To Relieve Acid Reflux Once it Occurs:
Acid reflux can affect you at any point after eating but there are ways to avoid this uncomfortable burning sensation while still enjoying meals, you simply just need to make better choices. In addition, these remedies are all-natural and can probably be found in your kitchen cabinets and by changing your habits after eating. No need to head to a pharmacist try the following first:
Avoid lying down after you eat
Eat an apple or a banana
Avoid tight clothing
Avoid alcohol and smoking
Try some chamomile tea
Foods to Avoid:
Here are only some of the foods that cause acid reflux. It is better to consume them moderately, but best to avoid them at all costs. It is also important to note that foods to avoid with GERD are the same as the foods to avoid with acid reflux. If you have GERD and enjoy all the foods listed here, then something has to give. Here is a list of foods and other items you should avoid:
Coffee or Tea
Mint or Peppermint
Apart from changing your diet for acid reflux, you should also make changes in your lifestyle. Here are easy steps to take towards living a healthier lifestyle:
Take off those excess pounds
Eat smaller meals
Avoid lying down after eating
Avoid extra pressure around your abdomen
Avoid tight clothes or belts
Make sure any medication that you’re taking does not cause acid reflux
You should never, ever ignore the symptoms of acid reflux or GERD it can cause inflammation of the lining of the esophagus and lead to more serious diseases like esophagitis and worse, cancer.