When acid reflux creates chronic bad symptoms, it’s called gastro esophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short. The most familiar symptom of GERD is heartburn pain in the lower abdomen and chest which at times feel like you are having a heart attack. Acid reflux can also cause regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the throat, and can also cause nausea and difficulty swallowing.
The primary cause of acid reflux is excessive acid production by the stomach, the esophagus and the pancreas. The stomach acid helps to produce digestive enzymes like pepsin and gastric acid, and acids from the digested food exit the body through the esophagus. In a healthy person, acid refluxes occur only rarely, usually due to inappropriate activity of the autonomic nervous system. If acid reflux is caused by an underlying disorder such as a hiatal hernia or hypothyroidism, symptoms can worsen or even be fatal. In addition to being uncomfortable, acid reflux can also damage the esophagus lining leading to scarring and other physiological conditions.
It’s not exactly clear what causes acid reflux to happen. There is strong evidence that certain foods, over-the-counter or prescription, can trigger acid reflux. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates seem to be the culprits. Certain types of medication may also play a role in acid reflux, because they interfere with the smooth functions of the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, the muscle that controls the movement of liquids through the esophagus. These medications include asthma medications, such as corticosteroids, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers.
The best way to avoid GERD is, as mentioned above, to live a healthy lifestyle. This means avoiding foods that are hard to digest, caffeine, spicy foods, fatty foods, citrus products, and alcohol. Additionally, some medications may cause acid reflux, including stomach acid blockers, anti-hnprazol, antacids, and antibiotics. Although most people experience acid reflux at one time or another, the condition can occur in as few as five of ten days. What causes acid reflux to occur varies from person to person, so it’s best to see your doctor if you think you may have GERD.
Some common triggers of acid reflux are overeating, smoking, lying down immediately after a meal, or bending over, straining to breathe, coughing, and lifting the head onto the chest. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid splashes up into the esophagus, causing pain and discomfort. If you’ve had heartburn before, you probably have other symptoms such as a sour taste in your mouth, excessive burping, a bloated feeling in your chest, hoarseness, an acidic taste in your throat, and difficulty swallowing. Heartburn usually goes away within a couple hours, although some people suffer from it for hours.
Because it is believed that what causes acid reflux is due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter, eating a few key foods can help prevent GERD, including apples, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, and lentils. Because what you eat can affect your acid reflux, you should also avoid spicy foods, tomato products, coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages. Also avoid foods that are high in fat, such as fried foods, canned goods, fatty foods, and chocolate. These foods may seem tempting at first, but if you combine them with other foods that are high in acidity, it can increase the acid in your stomach and can lead to heartburn.