Acid Reflux

Causes and Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux affects most of us at least a few times in our lives. If we eat too much unhealthy food too fast, the digestion fluids from our stomach might flow back to our esophagus, causing various unpleasant symptoms.

However, quite a few people experience this discomfort more often than just a few times. For such people, it is important to be mindful about what they eat, as frequent acidic backflow can cause serious health issues.

What causes Acid Reflux?

We have a muscle – called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – that makes sure nothing from our stomach can flow back up to our esophagus.

If this muscle does not work as it should, stomach fluids will find their way back to the esophagus, sometimes even up to the mouth, damaging the teeth.

Exercising proper eating habits can go a long way in helping this muscle to work properly.

These are the most common tips to help reduce acid reflux symptoms:

Do not eat too much

Eating too much comes with a number of health risks:

  • getting overweight quickly
  • acid reflux
  • heart problems
  • higher chance of cancer
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • sleeping problems
  • etc.

Having too much food in a short period of time puts huge pressure on our digestion system and makes it hard for the LES to properly close the stomach. This makes it more likely that stomach acids enter back to the esophagus.

Do not eat too fast

If you eat too fast, it is easy to overeat, since it takes about 20 minutes for our brain to realize we had enough food.

Another problem is that when we eat too fast, we usually don’t chew the food properly. Our digestion system needs to work harder, therefore it produces more stomach acid.

Swallowing air also happens often when we eat too fast. This puts additional pressure on the LES and makes reflux more likely.

Know your trigger foods

If you are prone to having acid reflux, you should observe yourself after every meal and try to find out what foods are more likely to cause reflux symptoms.

These so-called “trigger foods” can be different for different people, however, these are the most common ones:

  • fatty foods
  • sugary foods
  • fast foods
  • spicy foods
  • citric fruits
  • tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some other vegetables

Once you know which foods are causing your symptoms, you can try to avoid them or at least reduce your intake.

But it’s not only foods, certain beverages also tend to trigger acid reflux. To avoid chest pain after drinking, watch closely the amount you consume these:

  • coffee
  • carbonated drinks
  • sugary drinks
  • alcohol

All of the above tend to trigger reflux problems.

What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

Acid reflux can have a wide range of symptoms. Some of them are more common, while others are less frequent.

These are the more common symptoms:

  • Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest, that happens after having a meal. The pain can be light or so sharp that it’s easy to think you have a heart attack.

If the pain gets worse when lying down, it’s probably heartburn.

However severe chest pain accompanied by any of the following:

  • pain in the arm or jaw
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath

might indicate a heart attack and requires immediate medical attention.

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to call your doctor.

  • Regurgitation

Regurgitation happens when swallowed food comes back to the mouth.

This is perfectly fine in infants (and in many animals), however, when it happens to adults, it might indicate reflux problems.

  • Sour taste in the mouth

This is caused by the digestion fluids going all the way up from your stomach to the mouth.

The problem with this – besides the obvious unpleasant taste – is that in the long term it damages the enamel of your teeth, causing serious dental health problems.

  • Less common symptoms

Although not common, these symptoms might also indicate reflux problems:

  • dry cough
  • swallowing problems
  • bad breath
  • sore throat

Even back, shoulder and arm pain might indicate reflux problems. These are so-called “referred pains”, which means the problem is somewhere else in your body, but the pain radiates to these parts.

If you tend to have such symptoms after eating, you might have acid reflux.

How to handle reflux problems?

There are many over-the-counter drugs to mitigate acid reflux symptoms. In serious cases, surgery might be the final solution. Get the Heartburn treatment from the gastroenterologist.

However, since reflux is usually caused by your eating habits, the best thing you can do is to change your diet.

Switching to a healthy diet not only helps to eliminate the cause of reflux, but it’s 100% natural and might have a number of other health benefits too.

Consult with your doctor if you have a reflux problem, but before taking any drugs, you might want to try these tips to see if your reflux gets better:

  • eat slowly, chew your food
  • eat smaller meals
  • know your trigger foods and try to avoid them

Changing your eating habits can have an enormous effect on your reflux symptoms. Your symptoms might go away entirely, or they might be reduced to a manageable level.

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