If you’ve ever suffered from the misery of heartburn you’ll know just how painful it can be, and the sheer relief you feel when it’s over. If you suffer from heartburn a lot then you’ve already experienced acid reflux! One in 14 Americans suffer from this and of course it can really uncomfortable for the individual no matter when it occurs! You’ll find information in this article to help with understanding the condition more. You’ll discover how and why it occurs and what we can do to alleviate the problem.
So Tell Us More Then?
We all have acids in our body and when stomach acid goes back into the oesophagus or the tube connecting the stomach with the throat, we get a condition called, ‘gastroesophageal reflux’. The acid involved in this irritates the oesophagus lining and this is when we get a reflux situation! This can result in heartburn as we’ve already mentioned, but even worse we could bring back our food or even taste sour liquid in the mouth. Other symptoms will include having troubling swallowing which isn’t a nice sensation at all, coughing or even chest pain.
The oesophagus is found just behind the heart; hence the term heartburn was coined to describe the sensation of acid burning the oesophagus.
What Causes This Condition Then?
To explain this is simple terms we need to describe the small muscle around the bottom of the oesophagus. This will open just enough to let liquids and foods go into the stomach, before closing again. If this muscle becomes weak in any way or doesn’t work when it’s supposed to, acid in the stomach will flow into the oesophagus, and reflux symptoms will begin. If this starts to happen often then we need to take action to remedy this. Our stomachs actually produce hydrochloric acid after a meal to help with the digestion of food.
So What Can We do?
If you just get very mild symptoms then you can buy various treatments over the counter designed to reduce acid. Your pharmacist can advise you readily on this. They might include things like Zantac or Tums created to neutralise the acid and bring fast acting relief. Other medications like Prilosec and Prevacid can also help heal the oesophagus. But if we go back to the old faithful of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, this can help prevent this happening in the first place in most cases. It’s a possibility if you’re taking any medication this could be causing the acid reflux!
In the Case of Persistent Symptoms!
Most people who suffer from reflux now and again can just get on with things and there won’t be a long term problem. If this does persist then you should take advice from your doctor as soon as possible as you could be suffering from chronic reflux and getting this regularly can really have an adverse effect on your all round health! It’ll also make you feel miserable! You might also look at changing your eating habits or your lifestyle as this could have a big bearing on things. It might also be advisable not to eat at least two hours before going to sleep. You can even try eating smaller potions at meal times!
After a thorough examination a medical professional will more than likely give you prescription strength drugs? It may well be the muscle in question we call the ‘oesophageal sphincter’, will need to be strengthened, so in rare cases surgery will be the answer!
The surgeon will begin the process of Fundoplication by increasing pressure in the lower oesophagus to protect it from any acid coming back up. They will wrap part of the stomach around the oesophagus like a collar and fix it to provide more of a one-way valve effect. But again this is in the most rare cases and after everything else has been tried! The good news is this procedure now can be done laparoscopically, without having to make a large incision in your abdomen. A biopsy could be taken during endoscopy to check samples of tissue under a microscope for infection.
Remember you don’t have to suffer in silence as acid reflux can be both controlled and cured!