GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX is a condition in which acid from the stomach flows backwards up into the esophagus. This action is referred to as refluxing, and can cause heartburn which may further injure the esophagus.
In most cases, damage to the esophagus is more likely to occur when acid refluxes frequently and the esophagus is unable to effectively clear away the acid.
The most common symptom associated with acid reflux is heartburn, also referred to as acid indigestion. The symptom feels like a burning chest pain, which begins behind the breastbone and moves up towards the neck and throat. Many people say the sensation feels like food coming back into the mouth, which can leave an acidic or bitter taste. This form of heartburn can last for 2 hours, and can be worse after eating and lying down. People who experience heartburn at least two to three times a week may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
The signs and symptoms indicating a more serious problem, all of which should be reported to a healthcare provider, can include difficulty or pain associated with swallowing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, choking or bleeding.
- Antacids including “Maalox”, ”Tums” or “Rennies”, commonly used for short-term relief from acid reflux.
- Medication which can reduce acidity, including H2-blockers and Proton pump inhibitors.
- The following lifestyle changes:
-Losing weight may help overweight individuals reduce acid reflux.
-Raising the head of the bed can make the head and shoulders higher than the stomach, allowing gravity to help prevent acid from refluxing.
-Avoiding certain foods, including excessive caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, peppermint, and fatty foods. These foods may cause acid reflux in some people.
-Quitting smoking. Saliva helps to neutralize refluxed acid, but smoking reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth and throat.
-Avoiding large and late meals. Lying down with a full stomach may increase the risk of acid reflux.
-Chewing gum or using oral lozenges, which can increase saliva production and in turn help to clear any stomach acid that has entered the esophagus.