Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), causes uncomfortable indigestion and heartburn in the throat and/or chest. It occurs when the valve separating the stomach contents from the esophagus fails to close properly, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Symptoms of acid reflux include an unpleasant burning in the throat or chest, as well as a bad taste in the back of the mouth. It is also associated with coughing, asthma symptoms and difficulty swallowing. According to WebMD, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing it. Eating large meals, laying down right after eating, being overweight, eating before bed, smoking, and pregnancy can all increase the odds of developing acid reflux. Treating the problem is vital, as the condition will only worsen over time. If left uncontrolled, it can lead to ulcers, inflammation and bleeding of the esophagus, and even esophageal cancer, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Causes for Acid Reflux
Acid Reflux is caused by progressive damage sustained by the esophagus over time. Making lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms. This includes avoiding food and drinks such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, caffeine, citrus, chocolate, mint and spicy foods, as they may trigger symptoms.
Other common causes for acid reflux:
- Eating lying down during and after a big meal
- Being overweight
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Being pregnant
- Taking certain medication such as pain relievers or blood pressure medications
Maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking are also recommended. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can help manage acid reflux, as well. Medications commonly used to treat acid reflux include proton pimp inhibitors, prokinetic agents and histamine2-receptor antagonists. Nexium is a popular drug that works by decreasing the amount of acid in the stomach. Ablation is another treatment option. This medical procedure works by applying thermal energy to the irregular esophagus lining. This, in turn, can actually reverse abnormal tissue. According to the National Institutes of Health, multiple studies suggest that the procedure is about 80 percent effective. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy estimates that nearly 30 million Americans suffer from the condition.