Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Zoey Sky
While the terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are often used interchangeably, all three conditions actually have very different meanings. Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in severity from mild to serious. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the chronic and more severe form of acid reflux. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular muscle that joins your esophagus and stomach. This muscle is in charge of tightening your esophagus once food passes to your stomach. If the LES muscle is weak or cannot tighten properly, the acid from your stomach might move backward into your esophagus. This is what is called acid reflux. Acid reflux is also known as acid indigestion or pyrosis.
Known side effects of acid reflux
Some acid reflux symptoms are not always obvious or easily mistaken for something else. Listed below are some of the known side effects of acid reflux:
- Chest pain – This occurs when stomach acid is splashing into the esophagus.
- Pain peaks when at rest – Acid that is supposed to stay in your stomach will often escape into your esophagus when you lie down or bend over, causing heartburn.
- Post-meal pain -If you feel pain right after a meal, especially a big meal, this often means that the stomach is overloaded and its contents “have nowhere to go but up.”
- A bitter taste – When acid escapes from your stomach and makes its way into the back of your throat, it will leave an unpleasant and bitter taste in your mouth. This can even cause choking.
- Hoarseness – If stomach acid seeps into your esophagus, it can irritate your vocal cords.
- Sore throat – If your throat only hurts only after meals, it may be caused by heartburn.
Body systems harmed by acid reflux
GERD can cause the following complications:
- Ulcers and strictures of the esophagus
- Barrett’s esophagus
- Cough and asthma
- Throat and laryngeal inflammation
- Inflammation and infection of the lungs
- A collection of fluid in the sinuses and middle ear
Food items or nutrients that may prevent acid reflux
The following foods and nutrients can help curb acid reflux:
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is filling and doesn’t cause reflux.
- Ginger – When consumed in moderation, ginger is one of the best foods for acid reflux.
- Aloe vera – Aloe vera is often used to treat acid reflux.
- Fennel – Fennel (pH 6.9) is a great food for acid reflux, and it improves stomach function.
Treatments, management plans for acid reflux
Try the tips listed below to treat or manage acid reflux:
- Maintain a healthy weight – Excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, puts more pressure on the stomach. This puts you at risk of stomach acids going back into the esophagus and causing heartburn.
- Avoid “triggering foods” – These foods can increase your risk for acid reflux: tomato sauce and other tomato-based products, high-fat foods (like fast food products and greasy foods), fried foods, citrus fruit juices, soda, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, onions, mint, alcohol.
- Eat smaller meals – Spreading out your meals throughout the day helps puts less pressure on the stomach. This can prevent the backflow of stomach acids.
Where to learn more
Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in severity from mild to serious.
When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a circular muscle that joins your esophagus and stomach is weak or cannot tighten properly, the acid from your stomach might move backward into your esophagus. This is what is called acid reflux.
Some of the known side effects of acid reflux include chest pain, post-meal pain, and hoarseness.