Acid reflux can produce potential unpleasant symptoms which can affect our day to day lives. Luckily, there is a range of treatments available, which can help to both prevent and relieve these symptoms.
In this blog, we explain exactly what acid reflux is, before discussing its causes, measures to prevent it, and look at the acid reflux treatments which are available.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux involves the contents of your stomach moving up into the oesophagus. It is also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux or acid regurgitation. Those with daily symptoms could have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The most common symptom of acid reflux is discomfort, or a burning sensation, in the chest. This feeling, also known as heartburn, can radiate upwards towards the neck. Heartburn is believed to affect as many as 25 per cent of adults in the UK.
Other symptoms of acid reflux can include; the regurgitation of food or liquid into the mouth from the stomach; and a bitter or sour taste at the back of the mouth. People with GERD can have trouble swallowing, which in some cases can lead to breathing problems such as asthma or a chronic cough.
What causes acid reflux?
One of the most common causes of acid reflux is a hiatal hernia. This stomach abnormality occurs if the upper section of the stomach and lower oesophagal sphincter moves above the diaphragm, which is the muscle the separates the chest from the stomach and helps to keep acid in the stomach.
There are certain risk factors for acid reflux, which means that you are more likely to get the disease. These risk factors include; being obese; lying down straight after a meal; eating large meals; eating just before bed; eating spicy foods; eating fatty foods; eating foods such as citrus, tomato, garlic or onions; drinking alcohol; drinking caffeinated beverages; taking medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, specific muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications; being a smoker; or being pregnant.
What food and drink should you avoid?
As outlined above, there are certain foods which could increase your risk of having acid reflux. By the same token, there are certain foods which it can help to avoid if you have acid reflux or GERD. For a start, it can help to avoid high fat and fried foods such as chips or fries, whole milk, ice cream, high-fat salad dressing and fatty cuts of red meat. Then there is the spice factor – if you are a lover of curries, hot sauces and other foods loaded with chillis, you should know that while the foods may be tasty and offer some health benefits, they could also trigger acid reflux symptoms.
In fact, healthy foods don’t always make for the best foods when it comes to preventing acid reflux. Pineapple, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions and garlic should also all be on your watch list. When it comes to drinks, alcohol, coffee, tea, sodas and citrus juices should be treated with caution.
Down in the dumps after reading foods to watch out for? Perhaps you will cheer up if we tell you that oatmeal, seafood, lean meats, egg whites, ginger and non-citrus foods are all good additions to your diet if you have acid reflux.
What treatments are available for acid reflux?
So what can you do if you have acid reflux? Aside from making the dietary changes we suggest above, the main options for treatments are based around medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor blockers, which are proven to be effective in preventing and relieving symptoms.
For cases in which these treatments have proven ineffective, there are several types of surgery which can be undergone to treat GERD.