Acid Reflux: What it Is and What to do About It
|September 29, 2008||Posted by healthsmartmom under Acid Reflux Remedies, Health Issues|
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “acid reflux” but what exactly is acid reflux? Nearly all of us experience heartburn at one time or another. The first sign may be that all too familiar burning in the chest and it may be accompanied by an acidic taste in the mouth. For most, we can pop an antacid or two and be done with it. However, other people will find that heartburn is occurring much more frequently – perhaps twice a week or more. When heartburn becomes a regular problem, it is known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux. Acid reflux by itself is not serious, but frequent bouts over long periods of time can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus and throat. Because of this, it is important to find effective treatment for acid reflux to keep the acid at bay.
Why does Acid Reflux Occur?
To spare you all the biology, here are the basics: When you eat, food travels from the mouth, through the esophagus and into the stomach. In the stomach, digestive acids will break the food down so that nutrients can be absorbed into the body from the intestines and waste can be eliminated. At the base of the esophagus, there is a circular ring that is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is responsible for closing the opening between the esophagus and the stomach once the food passes through. When the LES doesn’t close properly, food particles and digestive juices can back up into the esophagus. Since the esophageal lining is not designed to withstand the harsh acids, burning and discomfort can result. Frequent bouts result in acid reflux, and often require treatment to protect this delicate lining.
How is Acid Reflux Treated?
The most common way to treat heartburn is with an over the counter antacid that will work quickly and effectively. However, due to the nature of acid reflux, you may require a different type of medication that will either treat the heartburn for a longer period of time or prevent it from occurring in the first place. For longer relief, many people turn to H-2-receptor blockers like Tagamet and Pepcid. These medications actually reduce the amount of acid that is produced in the stomach to provide longer relief. Another option is a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec. These medicines will block the production of acid, giving the lining of the esophagus time to heal. However, they may also have side effects, so be sure to read the labels.
Acid reflux can be an uncomfortable condition that may cause damage if it is not managed carefully. If you suspect that you are suffering from acid reflux, talk to your doctor about your best options in acid reflux treatment today.