Acid reflux is the weakening of the valve that connects the stomach to the esophagus. When this happens, the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus or the food pipe. As this acid is an irritant, the lining of the food pipe also becomes inflamed which can cause huge discomfort. You can have a feeling of a hot, acidic, sour fluid at the backup of the throat. You can also have chest pain when lying down particularly immediately after eating. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week it can cause acid reflux disease commonly known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
This disease is very common especially in India as around 1 million people are affected in a year. The reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents occurs in most normal individuals. Pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, asthma, etc all can lead to reflux of acid into the esophagus.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Being overweight or eating citrus/fatty foods can lead to acid reflux. There are a lot of symptoms of acid reflux but the main symptom is heartburn. Following are the symptoms of Acid Reflux
• Heartburn: A burning pain that moves up to the chest or throat from your stomach.
• Regurgitation: A sour acid backing up into your mouth.
• Bloody Vomiting
• Black stools
• Weight loss
• Dry cough
• Sore throat
Treatment of Acid Reflux
The first step in treating this disease is to modify and improve your diet and lifestyle. But if it persists, your doctor will recommend some medications. If you live in Pune you can consult Dr. Sachin Palnitkar, the best Gastroenterologist In Pune for the treatment. Based on the severity of your disease, he can suggest the best treatment.
The treatment involves the following
• Over The Counter Medications
There are various medications which include antacids, H-2 receptor blocker, proton pump inhibitors, etc.
Antacids: Antacids that neutralize stomach acid such as Mylanta, tums, etc can provide quick relief.
Medicines that reduce acid production include cimetidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine. Unlike antacids, they do not provide quick relief but longer relief which may last up to 12 hours.
Medications that block the production of acid and aid in healing the esophagus. These include omeprazole and lansoprazole.
Generally, this disease can be controlled through medication. But if medication is not sufficient, your doctor might suggest the following surgeries:
Fundoplication: In this, the doctor wraps your stomach around the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) to tighten the muscle and prevent reflux.
LINX device: A ring of magnetic beads is wrapped around the stomach in this. The magnetic effect is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid.
Ways to Reduce Stomach Acid
Though there are many treatments available for acid reflux, just a few changes in your dietary habits and lifestyle may significantly reduce your symptoms of acid reflux. Here are a few ways to reduce your stomach acid and relieving you of heartburn and acid reflux.
• Maintain your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight does not put pressure on your abdomen. This prevents your stomach from pushing up and causing acid to reflux into your esophagus.
• Wait before you lie down after a meal
Wait for at least three to four hours after eating before you go to bed.
• Avoid Overeating
Avoid eating large and heavy meals as acid reflux increases after meals. Also, make sure you chew your food properly and slowly. Putting down your fork after every bite is a great way to make sure you eat slowly.
• Avoid food that causes reflux
Fatty or fried foods like garlic, onion, tomato ketchup, caffeine, mint, etc should be avoided.
• Say no to tight-fitting clothes
Do not wear clothes that fit tightly around your waist as they put pressure on the abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
• Elevate the head of your bed
Try raising the head end of your bed 6 to 9 inches to elevate your body from the waist up.
• Include a low-carb diet
Acid reflux can be caused by poor carb digestion and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines. Including a low carb diet can be an effective treatment for acid reflux.
• Avoid sleeping on your right side
Many studies have now shown that sleeping on your right side may worsen reflux symptoms at night. Resting on your left side will make you more comfortable.
• Stop Smoking
Smoking weakens the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) which in turn increases the reflux of the stomach’s acid.
• Say no to Alcohol
Like smoking, consumption of alcohol weakens the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and increases the chances of reflux of acid.