What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a very common symptom of burning pain that is felt in or around chest area. This happens when stomach acids go back up to the esophagus (food pipe). This is also defined as a heartburn problem. If you experience frequent heartburn and indigestion issues you are likely to be having the acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What causes Acid Reflux?

A common cause of reflux is hiatal hernia. It is defined as a stomach abnormality in which the lower diaphragm moves above the stomach and LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter). The diaphragm’s job is to keep stomach acid in the stomach itself. However, in hiatal hernia, stomach acid moves up into the esophagus causing acid reflux disease.

Apart from this, other causes are:

  • Eating large meals and lying down immediately after that or lying on your stomach after eating a heavy meal
  • Snacking just before bedtime
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain beverages like alcohol, carbonated drinks, tea or coffee
  • Having muscle relaxants or certain blood pressure medicines
  • Citrus foods, onions, mint, garlic and high fat foods

Symptoms of Acid Reflux or GERD

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation (when sour or bitter tasting acid backs up into your mouth or throat)
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss for no definite reason
  • Burping
  • Bloody stools
  • Constant hiccups
  • Dysphagia (narrowing of your esophagus)
  • Nausea

When do these Symptoms mostly occur?

You are most likely to experience symptoms just after finishing a meal or when you bend down to pick an object or when you lie down to sleep in night. People who have frequent heartburn mostly experience acid reflux symptoms at night.

Avoid the Acid Diet

Certain foods make reflux problem worse. You should avoid:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus fruits

Tips to Alleviate Acid Reflux

  • Relax and Eat Slowly – Eat smaller meals at short intervals rather than having a huge meal at one sitting. Chew slowly and be relaxed when having a meal.
  • Limit Beverages during Meals – Liquids add volume to the food in your stomach and a fuller belly puts more pressure on lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Do not drink water while eating and wait for 20 minutes after finishing your meal before sipping water.
  • Shed Extra Pounds – Obesity increases the chances of having GERD.
  • Incorporate Moderate Exercise – Walking or any low impact exercise can help you lose and maintain weight and in turn keep the heartburn problem in check.
  • Cut down Fat – High fat foods delay the stomach emptying process, increasing your chances of experiencing reflux.
  • Do not Lie Down after Eating – A short walk after a meal can help digest food better and faster. When you lie down to sleep, do not lie on your stomach. Keep a pillow or two under your head. If possible and if suffer from frequent heartburn, keep your bed in a tilted position with the head side higher.