Acid Reflex or Heartburn?

Heartburn - gerd aka reflux

Acid Reflex or Heartburn? 9 Questions to ask yourself!

Although no stomach pain is easy to ignore, you may want to know if your pains are caused by heartburn or gastro oesophageal reflux, also known as GERD or simply acid reflux.

If it is heartburn that only occurs occasionally, you may be able to treat it with over-the-counter drugs or some changes in your lifestyle diet.

 

To distinguish whether you have heartburn or GERD simply answer the following questions:

1)  Have you had persistent symptoms for two weeks which cannot be relieved with over-the-counter medicines?

2) Is your heartburn continuously getting worse?

3) Are you unable to sleep because of the pain in your stomach?

4) Can it be difficult to swallow because you get the feeling of heartburn?

5) Does the feeling of heartburn continue even after over-the-counter drugs?

6)  If you are asthmatic, do you feel symptoms after meals, lying down, working out?

7) Do your asthma symptoms flair up at night?

8) Are you losing weight for no apparent reason or has your appetite vanished?

9) Are you unable to do your daily routine because heartburn is affecting you?

If the answer to any or many of these questions is yes, you need to see consult your doctor. This is most likely not simple heartburn. If left untreated, you could end with much worse medical issues such as narrowing of the oesophagus or even worse still Barret’s oesophagus, a pre-cancerous condition.

 

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Have you tried a reflux wedge pillow? It is a great alternative to medication or an operation.

[Infographic] Acid Reflux Guide All you Need to Know!

Acid Reflux Infographic

Info-graphic – Visual guide containing facts relating to Acid Reflux aka gastroesophageal reflux disease (gerd) that takes a look at;

  • The estimated number of sufferers from around the world
  • Symptoms of the condition
  • A clear definition of what reflux is
  • What causes acid reflux
  • Prevention of gastro-esophageal reflux
  • The testing and diagnosis of reflux
  • and Discusses the long term risks and the associated diseases that can result from exposure to long term untreated acid reflux.

Symptoms of acid reflux
Acid reflux is normally characterized by the unpleasant feeling in your chest and can be confused or called heartburn. It occurs due to the backward flow of the acid in the stomach into the esophagus, which is a tube that connects your throat to the stomach. Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux.

Acid reflux is one of the most researched health issues on the internet –  a common complaint that affects millions of people worldwide.

Causes of Reflux
Acid reflux is common in people of all ages and can sometimes occur due to no apparent cause. However, in most cases, it is linked to lifestyle factors. In some cases, it may occur to from effects that cannot be controlled such as pregnancy. Sometimes pregnancy may cause the acid in the stomach to be pushed upwards to the oesophagi. In addition, development of a hiatal hernia – an anatomical abnormality which causes the upper part of the stomach to insert into the chest cavity – may lead to acid reflux.

Some controllable risk factors may include obesity, active and passive smoking, too much alcohol, low fibre intake, lack of physical activity, medication such as painkillers, antidepressants and asthma drugs.

Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn and regurgitation – sour-bitter taste in the mouth. Other symptoms such as bloating, burping and nausea may result too.

Preventing Reflux
Having large meals before bedtime, being overweight and having certain foods and beverages such as citrus, spicy or oily food, alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee are common causes of acid reflux as well.

Fortunately, acid reflux can be prevented by taking medications and following some lifestyle changes.

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info-graphic reflux image

Infographic – Acid reflux worldwide statistics & info

Click on the image to enlarge to full screen

Medication

If you suspect GERD or acid reflux due to it’s tell tale signs, try modifying your eating habits and taking OTC medications. If improving your lifestyle doesn’t help, see a doctor.
Your doctor will prescribe drugs that may improve symptoms.

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About Creating Comforts

Did you know ... That the symptoms of Acid reflux are exacerbated when lying down / sleeping. By using a wedge pillow (aka a bed wedge) to elevate your sleeping position by 6-8 inches can help eradicate some if not all of the symptoms.

Symptoms And Causes of Acid Reflux

 

Pills for reflux symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, heartburn has nothing to do with the namesake’s organ. It actually has to do with the stomach area and its muscle ring called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES). The LES usually closes as soon as food enters, but when this part doesn’t close or keeps opening, acid is produced and can reach all the way into the oesophagus. At this instance, that chest pain most people term as heartburn occurs.

If you experience heartburn for more than two days in a week, then it’s likely your symptoms of acid reflux indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Apart from the typical symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux disease is also caused by hiatal hernia. This stomach abnormality occurs when the LES and stomach move in the upper area of the diaphragm. As a result, acid is not contained in the stomach.

Heartburn isn’t the only symptom of acid reflux disease. Other symptoms range from burping, bloating, bloody vomiting, dysphagia, non-stop hiccups, sudden weight loss, and nausea. Dental erosion, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), chest pain, asthma, regurgitation, and hoarseness are also included among the symptoms of acid reflux

Symptoms of Acid Reflux – list

  • Chest pains
  • Increase in pain discomfort when lying down
  • Pain after eating
  • Bitter acidic taste
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic coughing
  • Dental erosion
  • Asthma
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing – (dysphagia)

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list of the symptoms of acid reflux it includes some of the most common associated side effects of excessive heartburn or reflux.

Acid Reflux Symptoms – Causes

Apart from hiatal hernia, symptoms of acid reflux can be caused by other lifestyle factors. These include obesity (being greatly overweight), eating large meals then lying down straight after, eating snacks before going to sleep – as this is when the symptoms of the condition can be at it’s worst (this is where a wedge pillow might help), eating spicy foods -chili and chili powder before bed or other foods to avoid such as chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, vinegar, black pepper, tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, ketchup etc. Pregnancy, drinking carbonated beverages or coffee, smoking, and blood pressure medications can also cause symptoms of reflux.

Causes – keypoints

  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatus hernia (hiatal hernia)
  • Asthma
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Smoking
  • Bending forward
  • Alcohol
  • Eating habits (diet)

Acid Reflux – Diagnosis

Several tests are made in case of severe symptoms of acid reflux. There’s the barium swallow or esophagram – a special x-ray that checks for a narrowing in the upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract which includes the esophagus & can include the stomach. To diagnose for problems, Barium sulfate is used which is a type of contrast medium that is opaque to X-rays. As the patient swallows the barium suspension, it coats the esophagus with a thin layer of the barium. This enables the hollow structure to be imaged.

Another test that checks your body’s esophagus function and lower esophageal sphincter is the esophageal manometry. Endoscopy also checks your esophagus but can also look into your stomach via a long, lighted tube entering your throat. pH monitoring can also be done to check your stomach’s acid levels.

Symptoms of Reflux – Life Changes

If you are regularly experiencing heartburn or acid reflux symptoms, then you may have to make several lifestyle changes. Expect to eat smaller meals within the day, to take naps during the day, stop smoking, and to stop wearing tight clothes. Obese or overweight individuals will have to take the necessary steps to lose weight. Eating will have to be done at least two hours before lying down or sleeping.

  • Don’t overeat
  • Eat slowly
  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach
  • Avoid food & drink that could trigger reflux
  • Wear loose fitting clothes
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop smoking

woman with refux pain

Acid Reflux – Medications

Your doctor might also prescribe certain medications to ease the acid reflux. These prescription medicines can be Prokinetics like Reglan or Urecholine to help empty the somach or H2 blockers like Zantac or Pepcid to lessen the stomach acid production. Proton pump inhibitors like Aciphex and Nexium are also prescribed to reduce the acid made by your stomach. Foaming agents like Gaviscon can also be taken to avoid future acid reflux occurrences. Be sure to take these prescriptions according to the doctor’s orders and not to take them simultaneously.  Given the respective effects of each medicine, having them work at the same time will probably end up making the situation worse, so a consultation with a medical professional is advisable before taking any combination of prescribed & non-prescribed medication.

 Medication key points

  • Antiacids
  • Prokeinetic agents
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Acid suppressants

Do you have a symptom of reflux that is not on the list?

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About Creating Comforts

Did you know ...that in a 2009 Norwegian study the number of people who report living with the symptoms of acid reflux more than once a week increased from 31% to 40% by the end of the study!

Ways to Avoid Acid Reflux Symptoms

image of reflux symptom

Acid reflux – What are the the causes and symptoms?

Just as importantly: how do I control the symptoms and keep a bad situation under control?

For those dealing with this painful condition, this article will show you ways to both prevent and control your acid reflux and get some comfort.

If you have acid reflux symptoms, make sure that you let your dinner settle for three or so hours before you go to bed as this is the time that most feel it the most due to lying down. Allowing this time gap will allow the acid in your stomach to work and prevent the reverse flow of the stomach acid back through your oesophagus.

If at all possible try avoiding  drinking too much during meals. Quenching that thirst separately from your meals will slow down the effects of reflux. Drinking too much during meals can make you feel bloated. If you think you are hungry between meals, try having a drink first, you may find that satiates your need.

It is nice to relax after a meal, but do so sat up in a chair, not lying down. When you lie down, your stomach can push acid back up through the oesophagus. Any position that involves sitting or standing will give you a better chance of relief.

If you prop up the head side of your bed, your stomach will have a better chance of not backing up. If you raise the top of the bed more than six inches (achieved by placing “raisers” under the legs of the bed or the use of a bed wedge pillow  placed on or under the mattress), your body will feel some relief.

As if smoking does not cause you enough problems, here is one more reason to quit. If you have acid reflux, it can be made worse if you are a smoker. Smoking will affect your oesophageal sphincter that keeps the acid in the stomach. The smoking will also prevent the production of saliva and stymies the digestive process, which means stomach acid will remain longer.

You may think that tight fitting pants are a great way to avoid overeating. You may be right; however, pushing in that waist also will push in that stomach giving acid nowhere to go but inevitably back up past the oesophagus and which in turn will heighten acid reflux symptoms. Make sure your pants and any undergarments are loose enough to allow the digestive process to work unrestricted.

Exercise helps and is a superb way to avoid acid reflux symptoms. It will help you avoid carrying a spare tire around your waste. That unnecessary weight that you are carrying may cause acid reflux to flare up as the correlation of being overweight and acid back are well documented.

 

antacid pillsDo you realize that a food’s pH level has no impact on its ability to form acid in your stomach? Foods you might think are acidic could be more alkaline after you digest them. This causes a lot of confusion for many acid reflux / gerd sufferers. You should get to know the pH content in the food that you are eating if you suffer from acid reflux.

 

 

 

PH Levels in food may or may not aggravate an existing acid reflux condition. In fact, some foods become more alkaline when they enter the digestive tract. Working out which foods are good and which are bad foods for acid reflux,  do your research. To avoid the issues that might come from acidic foods, look up your favourite foods to see what their acid levels are.

 

Your mother was right what she said to slow down while you eat. You are not shovelling coal when you are eating. Make sure that your meal is fully chewed properly will help that it gest digested more easily. Focus on eating and stop when you are full. Enjoying the meal is not just a way to relax; it is a healthy way to avoid acid reflux.

Acid reflux can be soothed with cinnamon gum. Along with the gum itself, the chewing action will keep the stomach feeling better and allow the acid to work through the system.

As you can see above, acid reflux conditions can be relieved & controlled if you take the proper precautions. Take the time to review your eating and sleeping habits to see where you can make the changes that will make your life much more comfortable.

How do you control the symptoms of acid reflux or excessive heartburn (gerd)?

Let us know by leaving your comment below.

About Creating Comforts

Did you know ... About 1 in 3 adults suffer from heartburn once every few days, but that number is about 1 in 10 every day & is common in overweight persons, smokers, heavy drinkers, pregnant women & those in the 35-64 age bracket!