Acid Reflux Heartburn

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux often starts after a meal or a snack. There’s a burning sensation along with a tight feeling in the chest area. Sometimes it can be quite bad and the pain spreads to the neck, back or arm. That looks and feels suspiciously like a heart attack and can cause extreme panic in the affected person. Fortunately, in many cases, it’s just a severe case of acid reflux.

Despite the panic-inducing symptoms, the remedy can be quite simple – a deep burp will bring relief in a lot of cases. The burning sensation may be caused either by stomach acids in the esophagus or by acidic fumes trapped in the esophagus or both. That’s why burping can help – it releases these fumes from the esophagus and brings relief.

The symptoms of acid reflux are usually called heartburn. The medical term for the condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is abbreviated to GERD. As much as 36% of all Americans have this condition, according to some estimates.

Here is how acid reflux occurs. The stomach contains an acidic fluid that is necessary for digestion. The upper part of the stomach contains a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. The function of the LES is to keep the acids and the food within the stomach and prevent them from coming up into the esophagus.

The LES does its job well in most cases. However, in acid reflux patients, the LES tends to relax more than it is supposed to and as a result, food and acid sweep upwards into the esophagus.

The stomach is equipped to handle this acidic medium, but that’s not true of the esophagus. So acid tends to damage the esophagus lining and produces the burning sensation referred to as heartburn.

What happens when acid reflux occurs? A process called secondary peristalsis starts off. The esophagus pushes the food-acid mixture back into the stomach. Usually at least 90% of this mixture is sent back into the stomach and what remains in the esophagus is neutralized by saliva.

Many cases of acid reflux are relatively harmless. They are transient and don’t do any lasting damage.

GERD, mentioned above, is actually a larger category to which acid reflux belongs. GERD includes any symptoms or changes in tissue structure that might result from the contents of the stomach or duodenum moving into the esophagus.

GERD can have many causes. Some include delayed gastric emptying, lowered tissue resistance, problems with LES tone at rest or lower saliva production. Sometimes, GERD is caused by a transient relaxation of the LES.

Acid reflux is often a lifestyle disease. Consuming large, heavy meals is one possible cause. This puts pressure on the LES and may push the stomach contents up into the esophagus. Excess consumption of caffeine and fatty foods can also produce acid reflux.

So can smoking. In fact, smoking is a common reason for acid reflux symptoms. Smoking causes problems because it alters the bicarbonate levels in saliva.

More reasons for acid reflux include lying down shortly after a heavy meal and wearing tight clothing among other things.

Acid reflux is usually not completely curable, but it can be managed well by adopting healthy lifestyle changes.

What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?

Acid reflux disease, medically known as gastro esophageal reflux disease, can have a variety of causes. While the common symptoms of this illness may appear fairly benign, it can cause serious problems if it persists. Let’s take a look at some of the known causes of acid reflux disease.

As you might be aware, the inadequate functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) causes caustic fluids in the stomach to back up into the esophagus. This is what creates the sensation of heartburn. The LES muscles work to open and close the passage to the stomach at appropriate times. When they become weak, they can’t fully close and acidic fluid passes into the esophagus.

Acid reflux disease can come about because of malformations in the esophagus. There are several possible abnormalities that can affect the esophagus. Peristalsis is one that can lead to acid reflux. Something called adult-ringed esophagus is another. Adult ringed esophagus is the name given to a condition in which small rings within the throat cause difficulties in swallowing. This may result in acid reflux.

Also, if the stomach muscles are not functioning properly, the stomach will not be able to respond to stimuli the way it should. As a result, food is retained in the stomach far longer than it should be. This can lead to acid backing up into the esophagus. It is estimated that more than fifty percent of all acid reflux disease cases are associated with stomach muscles that do not function properly.

A condition called hiatal hernia can also indirectly lead to acid reflux disease. The hole in the diaphragm that connects the esophagus and stomach is called the hiatus. The organs above and below the diaphragm must be kept separate; for this reason, the hiatus is fairly tight.

In some people, the hiatus becomes weak. When that happens, a part of the stomach protrudes through the hiatus. This condition is called a hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernias cause acid reflux disease because they don’t allow the LES muscles to work well. As discussed earlier, the latter can lead to acid reflux disease.

In addition to the above factors, researchers report that about fifty percent of all asthma patients have acid reflux disease. It is not known which is the cause and which the effect.

Diabetes is also associated with acid reflux. Diabetics often have a condition called gastroparesis, which causes long delays in emptying the stomach. That can cause regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus.

Some kinds of medication may play a role in this disease. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are thought to contribute to developing acid reflux disease. These drugs may also worsen the condition in those who already have it.

Studies show that patients who consume NSAIDs are approximately twice as likely to also have acid reflux disease. These drugs are quite common and familiar brand names include Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Nuprin.

All the causes of acid reflux disease are not fully understood and research efforts are underway to uncover more factors. It is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have this health condition.

What Are The Acid Reflux Symptoms?

Acid reflux symptoms are fairly common across age groups. Surprisingly, they occur even in infants and young children, although the disease usually disappears as they grow older.

However, if acid reflux symptoms persist over long periods of time, it can do real damage at all ages. Since acid reflux involves regurgitation of stomach acids into the esophagus, the soft tissue of the esophagus may become scarred, swollen or inflamed as a result.

Acid reflux can also lead to several other health issues ranging from voice problems to esophagus cancer. The greater the frequency with which the problem occurs, the higher the probability of serious damage.

That is why it is essential to be aware of acid reflux symptoms and take remedial action if they persist.

Formally known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, acid reflux can have several interrelated causes. Excessive generation of acidic fluids in the stomach, harmful diet, alcohol consumption, reduced esophageal pressure, incorrect contraction of the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus – one or more of these and other factors could cause acid reflux.

The lower esophageal sphincter muscle is meant to keep the stomach contents confined to the stomach. Sometimes, it doesn’t do its job well. It may become too relaxed or function inappropriately, which results in a mixture of food and digestive juices in the stomach coming up into the esophagus.

Infants exhibit the highest incidence of acid reflux among various age groups. Most infants will outgrow the symptoms over time. But if that doesn’t happen, other complications can result in their gastro intestinal system.

Common acid reflux symptoms in infants include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Persistent irritability
  • Discomfort when they feed
  • Traces of blood in the feces

While most of these acid reflux symptoms occur in infants of age three months or below, if the problem persists past twelve months, it should be viewed with seriousness.

If an infant shows any of the following symptoms, it may mean that the problem is worsening.

  • Spitting blood
  • Blood coming up while coughing
  • Breathing problems
  • Significant pain or discomfort while feeding
  • Inadequate growth

Adults may show acid reflux symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain at various times that tends to get worse after eating
  • Abdominal pain that grows worse when lying down
  • Excess saliva secretion
  • Bitter taste in the mouth for no known reason
  • Bad breath

Having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that the person has acid reflux, since these symptoms are not unique to acid reflux. However, if the symptoms occur frequently – say more than two or three times a week – the person may have chronic acid reflux disease.

Some acid reflux symptoms may indicate that the person has developed greater complications from the disease. Here are some of those symptoms to watch out for.

  • Poor appetite
  • Blood in stools
  • Blood in vomit
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Inflamed throat area
  • Burning / aching sensation in the chest
  • Breathing difficulties

If you notice any of these acid reflux symptoms indicating severe disease, or if the less severe symptoms persist, it is important to see a doctor immediately. It is often possible to control the symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help Cure Acid Reflux

The medical term for acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease, abbreviated GERD. This is a fairly common health condition across the world. Can you cure acid reflux? Once someone has this disease, it is likely that they will continue to face it to a greater or lesser degree throughout their lives.

The stomach contains an acidic fluid that plays a key role in the digestion process. In acid reflux patients, the stomach fluid moves upwards into the esophagus. This can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus, leading to inflammation and other problems.

In acid reflux patients, the regurgitated fluid may contain bile and pepsin, apart from stomach acid. Stomach acid is quite corrosive to tissues and can damage the esophagus. Pepsin is an enzyme normally present in the stomach that assists in starting the digestive process. Although bile is produced in the liver, it may be released into the stomach and subsequently regurgitated in acid reflux episodes.

How can you cure acid reflux? Or at least bring it down to manageable levels? Here are several steps you can take.

    • Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is unable to stay closed and contain the acid within the stomach. This problem is worsened if you eat large meals, because then the stomach tends to expand and put pressure on the LES. Therefore, one way to improve acid reflux is to eat smaller meals. You can eat more frequently, to compensate.

 

    • On similar lines, try to avoid lying down for three hours or so after a meal. When you lie down after eating, it is easier for the stomach acid to flow upwards. By maintaining an erect posture, you reduce the chances of this happening. Try to eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime.

 

    • It will also help if you raise your head a bit while sleeping. When you do this, gravity will assist in keeping the contents of the stomach from backing up into the esophagus.

 

    • Certain foods stimulate the creation of acids and can therefore be harmful to those with acid reflux. Such foods may include citrus fruits, alcohol, onions, carbonated beverages, tea, coffee, pepper, fried foods, spices and chocolate, among others. Foods that exacerbate acid reflux can vary from one person to another. You should experiment with the help of your doctor to find out which foods are suitable for you.

 

    • Keep a record of heartburn episodes. Note when you have heartburn. Also keep a record of everything you eat. This will help you isolate foods that trigger acid reflux. Also write down what you did to relieve the symptoms and the effect it had. Keep these records everyday for two weeks and show it to your healthcare professional. He or she can then guide you to better manage the problem.

 

    • Obesity has been linked to acid reflux. Excess body fat may put pressure on the stomach and tend to push its contents into the esophagus. Consult your doctor for the optimal weight range for your body and take the necessary steps to stay within that range.

 

    • Cigarette smoking may cause acid reflux. Smoking tends to lower the amount of bicarbonate content of saliva. Since these bicarbonates work to neutralize acid, smoking can worsen acid reflux.

 

  • Learning how to relax can help you not just with acid reflux, but with a whole host of other heath problems as well. Stress can lead to habits and behaviors that are detrimental to heartburn patients.

While these measures will not necessarily cure acid reflux, they should help contain the problem.

GERD Diet

If you have heartburn symptoms, sticking to a well thought out GERD diet is critically important. Some foods can make acid reflux symptoms significantly worse and must not be consumed at all. There are other foods that do present a certain risk to acid reflux patients, but may possibly be eaten in moderation. And of course, there are recommended foods that form part of most GERD diets. This article looks at all three categories.

Here’s the first category – foods to avoid at all times if you have acid reflux. Even if you have not been told to stick to a planned GERD diet, it is a good idea to stay away from these foods as much as you can, since they tend to worsen heartburn symptoms.

  • Tomato, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, lemon, cranberry juice
  • Onions, French fries, mashed potatoes.
  • Spaghetti with tangy sauce, macaroni with cheese
  • Most fats and oils. Especially vinegar, creamy / rich oils
  • Dairy products like cottage cheese, ice creams, sour creams, milk shakes
  • Meats such as buffalo wings, marbled sirloin, chicken nuggets, ground beef chuck
  • Coffee and tea in any form, wine, any alcoholic beverage
  • Cookies with high-fat content, chocolate, potato chips, brownies, doughnuts.

There are certain foods that pose a relatively low risk of causing acid reflux symptoms in some people. You might want to consider including these foods in your GERD diet, under the supervision of your doctor. The key is to experiment and find out what specific foods you can eat without worsening your symptoms. Even if you discover that some of these foods apparently do not pose a problem for you, consume them only in moderation.

  • Cooked onions, garlic, scallions, leeks
  • Blueberries, apple cider, low-acid orange juice, raspberries, dried cranberries, grapes
  • Granola cereal, muffins and garlic bread
  • Ketchup, low fat cookies
  • Scrambled eggs in butter, fried fish, lean ground beef, fried eggs, tuna salad, ham, beef hot dogs
  • Cola, non-alcoholic beer, regular beer, root beer, non-alcoholic wine
  • Frozen yogurt, mozzarella cheese, skim milk, low fat content cottage cheese

Remember to test these above foods by consuming small quantities (following the advice of your doctor) and see how the acid reflux symptoms evolve. If they worsen, then definitely stay away from that specific food and remove it from your GERD diet.

Finally, there are foods that don’t worsen acid reflux symptoms. These foods are recommended for many GERD patients. However, individual reactions to foods may vary and you must take professional advice when deciding on a GERD diet.

  • Baked potatoes, green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, cabbages
  • Corn bread, white rice, brown rice, graham crackers, rice cakes, oatmeal cereal, white bread
  • Bananas, apples, apple juice
  • Mineral water
  • Fat-free cream cheese, low fat soy cheese, goat cheese, fat free sour cream
  • Jelly beans, baked potato chips, red licorice, fat free cookies
  • Egg white, fish, egg substitutes without added fat, extra lean ground beef, skinless chicken breast, London broil steak
  • Salad dressings of the low fat variety

There is a far greater variety of foods available today than is listed here. It is best to take the help of a competent medical professional in deciding on a suitable GERD diet.

Foods You Should Exclude From Your Acid Reflux Diet

In large part, acid reflux is a lifestyle disease. And one of the starting points to combating this disease is to stick to a good acid reflux diet. Ill-chosen food is responsible for much of the problems associated with acid reflux or GERD.

Everyone is time starved and it seems so convenient to wolf down fast food and high-fat, high-sugar snacks. That not only adds to empty calories in your body, it creates havoc within your digestive system. To some extent, a healthy acid reflux diet is an attempt to compensate for years of unhealthy eating.

Make no mistake about it – acid reflux patients must avoid certain kinds of foods if they are to stay healthy. You’ll find some of the biggest culprits described below.

Incidentally, it is tempting to believe that all you need to do is avoid spicy stuff and fast food. But that’s not true. Many of the foods that never go on an acid reflux diet are considered healthy and maybe even necessary for a balanced diet! The problem is that these foods have a tendency to cause indigestion and heartburn.

Fast Foods
As you might expect, this one tops the list. The fact is, the majority of items on the menu of a typical fast food joint is unhealthy for many reasons. This is especially so for acid reflux sufferers. Some of the worst foods are burgers full of grease and French fries. Fried chicken should also not be found in an acid reflux diet.

If you must eat at a fast food restaurant, look for their selection of grilled items. For instance, grilled chicken sandwich is a much wiser choice than most of the other items available.

Dairy Products
Many dairy products are relatively hard to digest and can aggravate acid reflux problems. It is a good idea to stay away from them. Ice cream can cause problems and so can sour cream. Other dairy products like cottage cheese can also damage your digestive processes.

Rich Desserts
The majority of desserts consumed today are not good for the digestive system. Chocolate is definitely something you should exclude from your acid reflux diet. The same goes for brownies and chocolate cake. In general, stay away from anything that has high butter content or other extra-rich content.

Specific Fruits and Vegetables
Acid reflux diets should avoid onions and potatoes. These are the two vegetables capable of causing the maximum havoc as far as this disease is concerned. Stay away from potatoes in all forms including mashed potatoes. The latter can cause significant discomfort in acid reflux patients.

Fruits that have a relatively high acid content are bad too. Lemons, grapefruits, oranges, cranberries and tomatoes have high acid content and will cause harm to people with acid reflux or digestive problems.

Beverages 
Some kinds of drinks can seriously aggravate acid reflux. Alcohol tops the list. You should stay away from any drink that has alcohol content, if you are a GERD patient. If complete abstinence from alcohol is not possible, at least severely restrict the amount you consume. Avoid wine and liquor. Tea and coffee are also known to set off acid reflux, so cut them out of your acid reflux diet.

The specific acid reflux diet that suits each patient should be designed in consultation with the doctor.

Acid Reflux Treatment with Medication – What You Should Know

There are several different medications available for acid reflux treatment and related conditions like indigestion. Most of these drugs require a prescription. Some are over-the-counter drugs that help ease symptoms when you have the occasional heartburn or indigestion.

Among the over-the-counter drugs, alginates and antacids are commonly used for acid reflux treatment. Many people have a ready supply of these medications at home and reach for them when they experience mild indigestion of heartburn. These drugs are effective in some cases and help relieve mild symptoms fairly quickly.

Commonly available alginates and antacids usually contain aluminum or magnesium. They work by neutralizing the acid produced by the stomach. Excess acid may be the cause of indigestion of symptoms of acid reflux.

Sodium alginate is often found in this group of drugs. It works by creating a protective coating on the stomach lining and gullet.

Some kinds of proton pump inhibitors are also used for acid reflux treatment. The stomach has a system called the proton pump which is responsible for acid production. Acid leakage from the proton pump into the esophagus can cause heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors tone down this system and bring relief to acid reflux sufferers.

Most proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux treatment come in the form of capsules or tablets. Some brands are available as a powder that must be mixed in water before consumption. Other brands are available for use in injections. The last are usually meant for treating Zollinger-Ellison, which is a relatively rare condition. Proton inhibitors in all forms can be used for treating acid reflux.

Popular proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux treatment include Lansoprazole and Omeprazole, among others. These drugs can cause side effects which include pain in the stomach, headaches, dizziness, constipation and breathing difficulties. The side effects, which may even include allergic reactions, can be quite severe at times. Therefore these drugs should be taken only under medical supervision.

H2 receptor antagonists are another kind of medication used for treating acid reflux. Cells in the stomach generate acid for digestion when they are stimulated by histamine as part of their normal functioning. This is achieved through the H2 receptor area. The H2 receptor antagonists block this receptor area and thus prevent acid formation.

Drugs like Famotidine, Ranitidine, Cimetidine, etc belong to this class. These drugs do have side effects like dizziness, headaches, a persistent feeling of tiredness and sometimes hair loss as well. Another similar drug called Nizatidine induces sweating in some people, apart from the other symptoms mentioned.

The occasional heartburn can be dealt with using over-the-counter drugs. However, they should not be used over an extended period of time. If symptoms persist, you should see a doctor who will prescribe an appropriate acid reflux treatment regime that includes medication as well as diet and lifestyle changes.

How To Deal With Sleep Apnea And Acid Reflux

Sleep apnea and acid reflux are sometimes linked together. People who suffer from acid reflux often find it difficult to sleep soundly. They may have bouts of nausea, heartburn or may exhibit sleep apnea. There are many acid reflux sufferers who only get symptoms during the night after they go to sleep.

Those suffering from sleep apnea and acid reflux are often drowsy during the daytime because they don’t get enough sleep at night. Fortunately, there are several steps to take that can help reduce the symptoms of both sleep apnea and acid reflux.

Maintain the correct weight
Sleep apnea can occur because of obesity. The muscles of the windpipe relax during sleep. In overweight individuals, the fat buildup can lead to the windpipe collapsing on itself during relaxation. This obstructs breathing and causes the symptoms of sleep apnea. Acid reflux is also linked to obesity. In fact, even small weight gains may trigger acid reflux symptoms.

If you are overweight, consult your doctor on the best weight range for you. Set up and implement a plan to bring your weight to within that range.

Eat dinner well before bedtime
The food you eat in the evening should be fully digested before you go to sleep at night. Experts say those suffering from acid reflux should eat their last meal of the day at least three hours before bedtime.

Unfortunately, many people tend to eat just an hour or so before they retire for the day. If they are prone to acid reflux, the symptoms may appear during the night or even the next morning because the food did not get a chance to be fully digested before they went to sleep. An early dinner is an important factor in preventing heartburn symptoms at night.

Elevate your body
You can get gravity to assist you with acid reflux symptoms. Keep your head raised during sleep. You can do that in many ways. One option is to simply use another pillow beneath your neck while going to sleep. Or you could prop yourself up. Remember, the more your upper body and head are elevated, the lower the chances of getting acid reflux.

Another option you can try out is to get hold of blocks and put them under the two upper legs of your bed. This has the effect of automatically raising your head to a higher level than the rest of the body and you may not need to make any further adjustments using pillows, etc.

The advantage of this arrangement is that it will not feel too different from lying down on a bed normally, unlike when you use extra pillows. And very likely, your spouse will not mind either. But your body will respond to the difference and you will probably have reduced or even eliminated your acid reflux symptoms during sleep.

Adjust the timing of your medication
Some people have found that timing their medication intake correctly can help them sleep better at night. Your doctor will be able to tell you how long it takes for your medication to become effective after you consume it. Then time the medication intake so that the peak effect occurs at the time you go to sleep. The usefulness of this approach does vary from one person to another, but it may be worthwhile to try it out.

As you can see, there are many ways to combat sleep apnea and acid reflux. Consult your medical professional and decide what suits you best.

Discover How To Stop Heartburn

Just about everyone gets indigestion and acid reflux once in a while. But when it becomes a chronic problem, you need to think about how to improve digestion and stop heartburn.

You may have noticed that indigestion occurs most frequently after a large meal. For the people who suffer from digestive / acid reflux problems frequently, the following action points can help stop heartburn.

The first thing to remember is to eat lots of fiber-rich foods. Fiber doesn’t just the digestive process; it enhances many other aspects of your health as well.

Unfortunately, a lot of the food we eat is fast food which is not only devoid of fiber, but is full of unhealthy fat and empty calories. They work fast to make indigestion problems a lot worse than they were before.

High fiber diets help you prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, hemorrhoids and many other health conditions. Consume plenty of the right kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grain cereals. Some foods like cabbage, broccoli, baked beans and carbonated drinks can cause gas formation in the digestive system.

Water is also an essential ingredient for good digestion and to stop heartburn. Water helps to dissolve and absorb various vitamins and minerals in the digestive tract.

Apart from sticking to the right kind of diet, it is important to chew food well. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, not in the stomach. When you chew your food well, you start the process of breaking down the food right there in your mouth. Chewing also signals to the body to release digestive enzymes needed for the process.

Keep your meal sizes fairly small. If you consume a large meal, the stomach produces a large quantity of acid to break it down. This in turn increases the chances of your getting acid reflux and indigestion. Meal size is an important factor if you want to stop heartburn.

Keeping fit through regular exercise is important too. Healthy digestion can exist only in a body that is in general good health. Obesity is known to cause problems like irritable bowel syndrome, stomach aches and diarrhea, among other things.

Exercise also helps to control stress. This is critical for good health, good digestion and to stop heartburn. Stress reduces the flow of blood to the abdominal area. As a result, the production of digestive enzymes slows down and other important processes are negatively impacted. This can directly lead to heartburn.

It may help to take digestive enzyme supplements. These enzymes promote nutrient absorption and good digestion in general. Many people with poorly functioning digestive systems lack enough digestive enzymes. These supplements can play a useful role in your quest to stop heartburn.

Common Acid Reflux Medications and Their Side Effects

Today, several acid reflux medications are available on prescription for treating the disease. Treatment almost invariably involves lifestyle changes (including changes in diet) as part of the process. The right combination of lifestyle adjustments and medication can help keep symptoms at minimum levels, although a complete cure might not be possible in many cases.

A certain amount of experimentation may be necessary to arrive at the right acid reflux medication/s for each patient. Occasionally, when a patient does not respond to acid reflux drugs, the doctor may investigate further and discover a different underlying cause like ulcers, for instance. Some cases of acid reflux may require surgery to correct.

Let’s look at a few common drugs used for acid reflux treatment.

The first one is a prescription drug called Rabeprazole. This is used when the patient has ulcers or acid reflux. It is usually prescribed for a period of eight weeks and has to be taken daily. It can be effective in alleviating acid reflux symptoms.

Like other acid reflux medications, Rabeprazole has a number of undesirable side effects. It can affect the patient’s sleep adversely and cause problems in work performance and other normal activities. People taking this drug also report lowered appetite as well as increased incidence of stomach aches, headaches and a general feeling of restlessness.

Rabeprazole works well only if it is taken daily. However, should the patient forget to take a dose, he or she should not try to take two doses at once because the side effects can get very severe.

Nexium is another of the commonly used acid reflux medications. It is also used to treat GERD as well as ulcers. Since it produces effects similar to Rabeprazole, the patient must ensure that only the correct dosage is consumed and not more than that.

There are other similar drugs used in acid reflux treatment including Prevacid, Protonix and Prilosec. Like the two mentioned above, these three drugs work by reducing the acid formation in the stomach and thereby controlling acid reflux.

All the above drugs belong to a class of medication called proton pump inhibitors. They are prescription drugs and must be taken only under medical advice and supervision. They are generally considered more effective than another class of drugs called H2 blockers, which are also used to treat acid reflux.

H2 blockers include drugs like Pepcid AC, Zantac 75, Tagamet HB and Axid AR. Like proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers also help to reduce the formation of acid in the stomach. However, H2 blockers are considered effective only in providing short term relief. They must not be used for more than a few weeks.

Acid reflux medications are most effective for those patients who encounter reflux episodes only twice or thrice a week. These drugs should never be used without a doctor’s prescription both because of their side effects and also because of the fact that the symptoms of acid reflux may be caused by other health conditions as well.

Overall, acid reflux medications can be helpful when used properly under competent medical supervision.

A New GERD Surgery Procedure to Relieve Heartburn Symptoms

GERD surgery may be a viable alternative for those whose acid reflux symptoms do not respond well to lifestyle changes and medication. Acid reflux results when the lower esophageal sphincter muscle does not have sufficient strength or is impaired in its functioning. This allows a corrosive mixture of acid and food to rise up into the esophagus from the stomach, which is what causes heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.

Apart from having to endure the pain of heartburn, chronic acid reflux can also result in the patient getting serious illnesses including esophageal cancer, erosive esophagitis, etc.

GERD surgery is one option for those afflicted with serious acid reflux disease. Not all doctors agree that surgery is a good option, though.

There is a relatively new, low risk surgical procedure that can help GERD patients. This procedure, called the Plicator procedure, is being practiced in an increasing number of hospitals and clinics across the nation.

This new GERD surgery procedure takes just twenty minutes or so and is normally done as an outpatient procedure. That may sound unbelievable, given that even tests for severe cases of acid reflux are invasive and time consuming.

The following is a brief description of the Plicator procedure.

The Plicator is a tiny electronic device that sits at one end of endoscopy tubes. For GERD patients, endoscopy is a relatively simple process. The patient is sedated but remains conscious. The endoscope is then passed through his mouth into the digestive tract.

The tube is inserted through the esophagus into the stomach. At this point, the Plicator, which is at the end of the tube, is also inside the stomach. Now the Plicator is maneuvered so that it is in a position to grasp the tissue in between the esophagus and the stomach.

Next, the Plicator closes its movable arms and parts of the tissue are clasped together as a fold. Then a suture is put in to that the tissue is held in that position even after the Plicator releases it.

That completes the procedure. The patient usually must eat only soft foods for a few days so that the suture can set in properly.

The net effect of this procedure is that the path from the stomach to the esophagus becomes smaller and tighter. As a result, the lower esophageal sphincter can open and close the opening from the esophagus to the stomach in a correct manner. This prevents stomach contents from being regurgitated upwards into the esophageal tract.

The majority of patients who undergo this new GERD surgery do not experience any serious adverse effects as a result of the procedure. Most people take up normal activity the day after the surgery.

The surgery is effective almost immediately and patients can often go off acid reflux medication in just a few days. Minor side effects like pain in the abdomen or a sore throat may be present, but they clear up in a few days time.

There are ongoing studies to assess the effectiveness of this surgery. The available data shows that as much as severity percent of patients who went through this GERD surgery did not need any acid reflux medications at all. And an estimated eighty percent of all patients had a lessening of heartburn symptoms after the operation. This indicates that the surgery is indeed highly effective in helping GERD patients.

Can Coconut Oil Help You Find Heartburn Relief?

People have sometimes experienced heartburn relief using fairly unconventional methods. Here is something that is not normally associated with acid reflux but may help alleviate its symptoms – the coconut.

The coconut is a produce of the tropics and grows exuberantly in countries like the Philippines and in parts of India, among other places. In many tropical locations, every single part of the coconut palm – the coconut itself, the palm leaves, the trunk and the roots – are put to use for one purpose or another. But how is this linked to heartburn relief?

It is only recently that researchers have stumbled upon the medicinal properties of the coconut. Studies have shown that constituents of the coconut have remarkable properties and can be used as antiseptics / anti-infectives and as antihistamines. Coconut is said to strengthen the body’s immune system. Certain components of the coconut are effective as glucocortcoid antagonists. And there is some evidence that coconuts can be used by acid reflux patients for heartburn relief as well.

As mentioned on other pages, acid reflux episodes usually happen after eating a meal or even a small snack. The most common symptom is heartburn, which is a sensation produced when stomach acids go up into the esophagus. The person may also experience breathing difficulties and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

In healthy adults, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which sits between the stomach and esophagus blocks the upward passage of stomach contents. If the LES does not function normally, it may allow a food-acid mixture to back up into the esophagus.

So what is this new method of using coconuts to provide heartburn relief? Actually, it is a fairly old method, because people who live in the tropics have been using it for centuries to relieve acid reflux symptoms. There are a couple of ways of doing it. Both involve extracting oil from coconut.

In the first method, the coconut oil is applied to the stomach as a liniment to provide heartburn relief. The oil necessary for this purpose is extracted using a specific method. Coconut gratings are prepared from a mature coconut. These gratings are squeezed to extract coconut milk. The extracted milk is carefully strained to remove all solid particles from it.

Then the milk is heated over a very low flame. This will result in the milk evaporating leaving the oil behind. The oil is used as liniment and does its work by inducing belching to give heartburn relief.

The other method is to consume virgin coconut oil. To prepare virgin oil, coconut milk is left undisturbed in a container for around forty eight hours. The cream, oil and water separate naturally.

Virgin coconut oil is a very pure form of oil and researchers say it is rich in medium and short chain fatty acids. It is a highly effective anti-oxidant. The oxidation process in the body is associated with something called the carnitine transport system. Virgin coconut oil, with its rich short chain acids, metabolizes very fast and does not make use of the carnitine transport system. As a result, the presence of this oil in the body enhances its anti-oxidation capacity. This oil has been effective in providing heartburn relief in some patients.

Could Your Newborn Have Infant Acid Reflux?

Infant acid reflux occurs usually because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is not fully developed. The LES is responsible for keeping the contents of the stomach away from the esophagus. When it doesn’t function well (or is underdeveloped), acidic stomach contents may be regurgitated into the esophagus, which causes the symptoms of infant acid reflux and heartburn.

It is thought that about half of all infants who are otherwise in good health are affected by infant acid reflux. They may vomit or spit up food and fluid. Acid reflux is the main reason for vomiting in babies during the first four months of life. It usually stops after that time.

Apart from an immature lower esophageal sphincter, other causes of infant acid reflux are hiatial hernias, abnormally high weight gain or even just having an underdeveloped digestive system. Heredity also appears to be a factor since acid reflux and GERD tend to run in some families.

It may be difficult to recognize the symptoms of acid reflux in infants. If an infant has frequent bouts of spitting or vomiting, it may be an indicator of acid reflux. However, this is not conclusive because many other disorders can also cause those symptoms. Frequent spitting and vomiting from month five onwards may well be because of acid reflux. This is more so if the infant arches its back and cries constantly while vomiting.

Just as with adults, babies need certain lifestyle changes to cope with infant acid reflux. They are relatively simple, as compared to what is required of adults.

The first thing to do is to hold or keep the baby in an upright position for at least thirty minutes after feeding. This includes both breast feeding and feeding from bottles. Since one of the problems babies face is frequent spitting up of food portions, a possible solution is to give the baby smaller quantities during each feed, while simultaneously increasing the number of feeds to that it gets the necessary quantity of food.

When putting the infant to sleep, use a crib that has its upper portion elevated to an angle of around thirty degrees. By doing so, gravity will help prevent the contents of the stomach from backing upwards into the esophagus. Also keep in mind that placing the infant in a semi-prone position such as in an infant car seat can make acid reflux symptoms significantly worse.

It may help if the infant’s formula is thickened a bit. This can be done using pre-thickened formulas or by using rice cereal. Thickening infant formula is thought to help reduce the amount of spitting, although it may not help with the actual acid reflux problem.

Fortunately, infant acid reflux is something most babies outgrow. It usually ceases to be a problem after the first few months. Even in situations where the symptoms persist into childhood, the disease is usually managed fairly easily with diet and lifestyle changes.

Try Out These Natural Cures for Heartburn and Watch Your Symptoms Disappear

There are a number of natural cures for heartburn that have proven effective for many people. Reaching for antacids is often the first response when someone is faced with a hint of acid reflux or indigestion, but some of these remedies can be a useful substitute.

Best of all, these natural cures for heartburn do not involve many of the unpleasant – and possibly dangerous – side effects of regular medication. For instance, aluminum, which is used in some drugs, is suspected to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and senility related problems.

Having said that, rely on these natural cures for heartburn only in cases of mild indigestion. They are useful for mild acid reflux problems that happen occasionally to almost everyone. If you do have chronic or severe acid reflux, it is best to consult a doctor and use the drugs he prescribes. You may still want to utilize these natural cures as a supplement to medication, provided you keep your doctor informed.

Let’s take a look at some of these remedies.

Try Out These Natural Cures for Heartburn and Watch Your Symptoms Disappear

There are a number of natural cures for heartburn that have proven effective for many people. Reaching for antacids is often the first response when someone is faced with a hint of acid reflux or indigestion, but some of these remedies can be a useful substitute.

Best of all, these natural cures for heartburn do not involve many of the unpleasant – and possibly dangerous – side effects of regular medication. For instance, aluminum, which is used in some drugs, is suspected to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and senility related problems.

Having said that, rely on these natural cures for heartburn only in cases of mild indigestion. They are useful for mild acid reflux problems that happen occasionally to almost everyone. If you do have chronic or severe acid reflux, it is best to consult a doctor and use the drugs he prescribes. You may still want to utilize these natural cures as a supplement to medication, provided you keep your doctor informed.

Let’s take a look at some of these remedies.

Acid reflux sometimes damages the esophagus. In such cases, pineapple can be a useful addition to the diet. Pineapple contains bromelain, which tones down proteins and has many other useful enzymes. Fresh pineapple juice is particularly rich in these enzymes. This fruit is known to heal wounds in the esophagus caused by acid reflux and reduces inflammation while aiding digestion.

Aniseed (also called anise) is an effective natural cure for heartburn. It helps digestion and promotes good health in many different ways. There are a few different types of aniseed and the one to use for helping digestion is the variety known as sweet anise, green anise or European anise. Other types of aniseed include caraway and star anise, which are not useful for indigestion.

The enzyme papin promotes digestion. It is found in the papaya and helps absorb proteins better. Consuming papaya with a meal can help digestion proceed better.

Grapefruit skin is said to be an excellent digestive aid. Remove the outer skin of grapefruit and let it dry. When you experience symptoms of heartburn or indigestion, chew a few pieces of dried skin. You should see relief from symptoms. Chew on only a few pieces at a time and find out the number that works best for you.

Both lavender and peppermint are good natural cures for heartburn and indigestion. Lavender helps reduce stomach acidity. Peppermint helps control gas formation, ulcers and cramps, apart from assisting digestion.

Cinnamon can settle the stomach if you are prone to indigestion. It also has antiseptic properties. Cinnamon can be added to many different foods including meat. It adds to taste wonderfully.

In general, eating foods that are alkaline will help with the symptoms of heartburn. This is because alkaline foods help counter the natural acidity in the stomach that creates heartburn.

Try out some of these natural cures for heartburn. Experiment to discover a combination of foods that seems to work best for you. Keep your doctor informed so that he can advise you and adjust your medication accordingly.

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