Acid Reflux: Treatment, Symptoms, Causes, Diet & Foods to Avoid
It’s estimated that at any given time, acid reflux affects 20 to 30 percent of the population, lowering quality of life and causing discomfort. Acid reflux goes by several names, depending on its severity. You may hear it referred to as simple heartburn, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Read on to learn more about the triggers, symptoms, and causes of acid reflux, what helps acid reflux, and what foods cause acid reflux.
What Is Acid Reflux and What Are the Symptoms?
Acid reflux occurs when a muscle that protects the entranceway to your stomach isn’t functioning correctly. This muscle, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), typically closes when you eat food, and the food passes into the stomach through the esophagus. Sometimes, the LES doesn’t close all the way, or it opens too often. This can cause acid from the stomach to escape and arrive in the esophagus. This acid in turn causes burning and other discomfort, which most patients typically refer to as heartburn.
If you only have an occasional case of heartburn, there likely isn’t much cause for concern. Occasional heartburn is easily cured with acid reflux remedies like antacids. However, if you have persistent heartburn or feel burning more than once or twice a week, this may be a case of acid reflux or GERD, in which case you should consult a physician. Common symptoms of GERD include:
- Heartburn (burning in the chest or top of the stomach)
- Regurgitation (feeling as if you haven’t completely swallowed, or a feeling of food coming back up into the throat)
- Frequent burping
- Dry cough
- Vomiting or nausea
It is also important to note that a key difference between occasional heartburn and acid reflux is the number of symptoms a patient experiences. For example, heartburn coupled with other acid reflux symptoms like dry cough, nausea, or hiccups is a red flag to make an appointment.
What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?
Acid reflux disease has different triggers in different patients. For some, the simplest of acid reflux natural remedies include eliminating foods from the diet. Others have different causation. Many acid reflux treatments do include lifestyle changes. Causes of acid reflux disease are best explained by various risk factors. One of the most significant contributing factors to acid reflux disease includes being overweight or obese. Other ones include:
- Alcoholic or caffeinated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Lying down immediately after eating
- Eating right before bedtime
- Certain medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- Hiatal hernia
Patients with hiatal hernia are commonly comorbid with acid reflux disease. While it’s wise for these patients to make lifestyle adjustments, acid reflux medicine is typically the best course of acid reflux treatment.
Treatment of Acid Reflux & Foods to Avoid
Depending on the severity of your GERD, your doctor may suggest you make lifestyle changes, but may also prescribe an antacid, or direct you to an over-the-counter medication that can help reduce your symptoms. Luckily, most cases of acid reflux are controlled by both lifestyle changes and medication.
There are also acid reflux remedies you can consider to further reduce the chance of suffering from frequent heartburn. One of the best things to do is to simply not overeat at a sitting, whether it’s right before bed or any other time of day. Losing weight and trying to follow a low-carb diet is another option. Some patients report success with chewing gum in between meals to ward off heartburn. Avoiding certain foods is also often suggested. You should limit your intake of or avoid food and drink such as:
- Caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Alcoholic beverages
- Beverages with citrus juices
- Raw onion
If you’re already susceptible to acid reflux, then eating these foods or drinking these beverages may serve to exacerbate the problem.
If you need more information about GERD, acid reflux, or would like to be seen by a physician, schedule an appointment at Gastroenterology Consultants of Savannah, P.C. today. We offer five Georgia locations and one South Carolina location for your convenience.