Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn and acid reflux are two common conditions that may not seem life-threatening, but they can affect your quality of life. Heartburn and acid reflux make you very uncomfortable; it also hurts. In most cases, if you have acid reflux, you also have heartburn. Certain foods and drinks can cause the condition and make it worse. In the beginning, the condition may not be that bad, but over time that acid can cause erosion and possibly lead to cancer. To treat the condition, it is good to know what may be causing it. Talk with a doctor about your problems so you can get it solved before it causes irreversible damage.
When you first eat something, you chew it, and the saliva helps you swallow it. The food then goes down the esophagus and into the stomach. After that, it is transferred into the intestines where digestion takes place. The esophagus is directly connected to the stomach, which raises problems. The stomach is full of acid. This acid breaks down the food and helps with the digestive process. There is a door like structure that keeps the acid in the stomach from getting into the esophagus. This door is called the esophageal sphincter. There are two esophageal sphincters. The upper sphincter prevents food from going down the windpipe and helps keep the windpipe open when you breathe. The lower esophageal sphincter prevents acid from coming back into the esophagus. When acid is allowed to go backward, it causes a burning sensation; we know as acid reflux.
Acid reflux may also be called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD for short. There are many causes, but acid is the culprit. The acid is meant to stay in the stomach. Acid is not meant to be released in other parts of the body. The lining of the stomach is made in such a way that the acid does not destroy the walls. If you were to have a cut in the stomach that caused the acid to leak, you are in danger. That acid can make you sick and destroy other organs. Acid reflux is a condition that can happen to anybody, no matter the culture or weight. It is not a condition only found in people that are overweight; it happens in people that are fit too.
Causes and Risk Factors
One of the major causes of acid reflux is a hernia, more specifically a hiatal hernia. This hernia is a result of the stomach bulging into the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest cavity. When the stomach moves above the diaphragm, the acid is no longer contained and begins to move into the esophagus. Several risk factors may also cause acid reflux. A common cause is drinking acidic beverages. Alcohol, carbonated sodas, and coffee, can all do damage causing acid reflux. If you look at studies about the acidity of these drinks and the erosion they cause on just regular things like metal, you may not drink them anymore. Eating habits is another problem. Eating citrus or spicy foods can cause a lot of burning. Eating a lot of food before sleeping or not giving your food time to digest will cause that acid to come back up. Being obese also puts you at a greater risk. Medications may have side effects leading to heartburn and acidity problems. Unfortunately, being pregnant puts pressure on your stomach which can also cause acid to reflux into the esophagus.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
There are many symptoms of acid reflux disease. We have all experienced these symptoms maybe one time or another. You feel a burning sensation just to start. The burning goes from the stomach into the chest; this is what we call heartburn. Sometimes that feeling goes up into the throat; this may cause a bad taste in your mouth. Coughing, hiccups, and sore throat are other symptoms. Many people experience bloating, bloody stools, and vomiting.
Heartburn and acid reflux have a direct connection. Acid reflux typically causes heartburn. Heartburn is the burning feeling in the chest as a result of acid going up the esophagus. The same things mentioned above that causes acid reflux also cause heartburn. Heartburn can happen to any of us, but it should not be a regular thing. If your heartburn has become an everyday thing, you should seek medical attention. You may have damage to your esophagus.
There are treatment options for acid reflux and heartburn. They can both be treated the same way. Many people try over-the-counter medication first. If you only experience heartburn sometimes, this is the best way to treat the problem. Antacids neutralize stomach acid and give you instant relief. Other medications like Prilosec and Prevacid reduce the acid in the stomach. Sometimes you can try hypnosis, aromatherapy, and massages to help treat the condition. The doctor may have to prescribe medication for you when other things do not work. If you do not want to take medication, you should change your lifestyle. Cut down on those acidic drinks and spicy foods. Just a change in diet can reverse these symptoms.
Acid reflux and heartburn happen to the best of us. Sometimes it is hard to get rid of the soda and spicy foods because they are so good, but we have to if we want to avoid these problems. Both conditions are easily treated if you treat them right away. Ignoring acid reflux can cause serious problems in the esophagus. If you notice, you are having trouble with these things all the time, make an appointment with a physician.
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