Acid reflux is one of the most common health problems in the American population. With over 60 million victims, acid reflux manifests in several different ways – although the cause for each symptom is the same.
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter is unable to close correctly. Reflux occurs because the stomach begins leaking contents back into the esophagus.
How to Identify Acid Reflux
Acid Reflux/GERD can create numerous symptoms that may differ from person to person. Read the description of the most common indicators to gain a better understanding of this condition.
- Heartburn: Have you noticed a burning sensation causing discomfort in the stomach and chest regions? Although this experience is unpleasant, your heart is not in danger when experiencing heartburn. This symptom is a result of acid reflux.
- Regurgitation: This term refers to the movement – or regurgitation – of acid up the throat, sometime as far as the mouth. The reaction may leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
- Dyspepsia: General abdominal pain, feeling full all the time, or experiencing nausea after eating can all be signs of acid reflux.
Left untreated, stomach acid can become increasingly harmful to the esophagus and lead to more severe consequences.
Acid Reflux Remains a Mystery
There is still no concrete answer for why people experience this unpleasant condition. The medical community has done research to see if hiatal hernias play a role in causing acid reflux. To find a hiatal hernia, doctors look in the upper portion of the stomach. A hiatal hernia slows the diaphragm from working properly, which leads to more acid leaking up into the esophagus. Other possible causes include pregnancy, obesity, and the use of certain medications.
Certain Foods Trigger GERD
Watching what you eat is an excellent way to lessen acid reflux symptoms. Certain foods may increase acid reflux reactions: citrus fruits, caffeine, alcohol, high-fat foods, spicy food, garlic, onions, tomatoes and chocolate.
Your Treatment Options
The health care team at The Mollen Clinic may be the perfect fit if you’re suffering from acid reflux in the Scottsdale, AZ area. Our approach encompasses all aspects of an individual’s health. We work to find appropriate solutions to reverse the issue and create a healthier future. Treatments may include lifestyle changes to help reduce the unwanted symptoms and minimize their presence in the future.
How to Get Started
Since changing daily habits can reduce most acid reflux symptoms, start experimenting with these small changes in your routine:
- Enjoy smaller meals more often. Instead of overeating on three large meals each day, try eating a light breakfast followed by a healthy midmorning snack and a light lunch. Plan to have a hearty afternoon snack to help tide you over until dinnertime. Spacing out eating times this way reduces acid build-up in the stomach.
- Don’t lie down right after eating. Give yourself time to properly start digesting food before heading to bed. Three hours is recommended.
- Prop your head up in bed. A supine position increases the chance of acid slipping out of the stomach in people with loosened or otherwise compromised lower esophageal sphincters. Keep head slightly elevated to reduce symptoms.
- Lose weight. Excess weight increases acid leaks because it puts additional pressure on the esophagus.
Stay away from alcohol, and if you smoke, quit.
Many medications, tests, and surgeries are available to people interested in pursuing alternatives to lifestyle changes. While these measures are often more drastic, they accomplish the same goal. Keeping acid from refluxing into the esophagus is the primary focus of any treatment. Talk with your provider at The Mollen Clinic about which options are most appropriate for you.
Medications – Standard antacids like Pepto-Bismol are usually the first recommendation. Health care providers also prescribe antacids with calcium carbonate, foaming agents to contain stomach content, H2 blockers, Proton pumps, and much more.
Tests – If lifestyle changes and medications don’t provide desired results, the next step could be diagnostic testing. A doctor may order a barium swallow radiograph or an upper endoscopy to explore the issues further.
Surgeries – This only becomes an option after previous methods have failed to improve the situation. Fundoplication, a laparoscopic operation to reduce symptoms of GERD, may be available to you.
Schedule an Appointment With a Provider in Scottsdale
Individuals who are ready to get rid of acid reflux symptoms can make an appointment with a health care provider at The Mollen Clinic by calling 480-656-0016. Start exploring your options with a health care provider in Scottsdale, AZ.