Acid reflux is a painful and frustrating condition. If you suffer from acid reflux, you will be familiar with heartburn which is one of the major symptoms. This burning pain in the throat can make life difficult, especially when you are trying to sleep. Luckily, there is a solution. Read on to learn more about this condition, as well as how to treat acid reflux.
So, what causes acid reflux? The stomach has a ring of muscle at the entrance called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES for short. This valve is there to allow food to enter the stomach and prevents stomach acid or anything else from making its way back out through the esophagus. When the LES malfunctions, either by remaining partially open or by opening at the wrong time, acid reflux is the result. Stomach acid makes its way back up the esophagus, creating burning sensations and potentially damaging the tissue if it persists for a long time.
Causes for acid reflux vary. Sometimes, it is as simple as eating too much or laying down after eating. This can put pressure on the LES muscle and force it open. Certain foods and beverages, like spicy foods, alcohol, soda, and coffee can also make acid reflux more likely. Medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, or muscle relaxants can also have an effect.
If you have chronic acid reflux, the cause is commonly a condition called a hiatal hernia. Normally, the diaphragm, which is the muscle that helps with breathing, presses down on the stomach and helps to keep the LES closed. If the upper portion of the stomach containing the LES is moved above the diaphragm, this is called a hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernias press stomach acid up the esophagus, causing a chronic version of acid reflux. If you have acid reflux regularly, see a doctor to see if you may be suffering from a hiatal hernia.
So, how to treat acid reflux disease if a hiatal hernia is not involved? The easiest way is simply to change lifestyle habit to avoid putting too much strain on the LES muscle. Eating less food at once is one of the easiest solutions. The more food in your stomach, the harder it is for the LES muscle to stay closed. Smaller, more frequent meals can make a big difference. In addition, try to avoid eating or drinking alcohol within a few hours of going to bed, and try raising the head of your bed a few inches to sleep on a slight incline. Most acid reflux occurs when laying down, so reducing pressure on the LES during this time is important. If you are overweight, losing weight can also make a big difference in acid reflux symptoms.
Acid reflux is an annoying condition, but it is manageable. Most acid reflux is caused by eating too much or laying down with a full stomach. If acid reflux persists or is chronic, see your doctor for solutions or to find out whether you may be suffering from a hiatal hernia.