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Guide

Acid Reflux – Understand the Problem and Ease Acid Reflux Pain

Lesson 1

Acid reflux is a condition that a great many people experience regularly, yet do little to prevent or manage it. It is most often shrugged off as unavoidable, or untreatable.

At its most benign, the most common symptom is heartburn. Heartburn is
best characterized by that burning sensation in the chest, which leads to the reflux that creeps up from your stomach back into your throat. In most cases, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth that borders on nausea.

However, the incidence of acid reflux is alarming. Over half of the world population is expected to experience acid reflux at least one time in their lives. Those who do nothing can expect symptoms more often.

GERD is diagnosed typically when a patient has acid reflux symptoms 2 or more times per week on a recurrent basis. If acid reflux is left untreated, the likelihood of developing a hernia or even esophageal cancer increases.

Acid reflux can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, throat pain and burning, hoarseness and even earaches. Acid reflux typically affects adults, however children and infants are not left out.

The good news is that like many other ‘conditions’ that we experience, acid reflux can be minimized or prevented, and its symptoms, including heartburn, can be managed.

Key to doing so is first understanding why and how it occurs. This guide provides detailed explanations of the causes and symptoms of acid reflux. The main focus is on natural prevention and cure – for acute instances and for the long-term. 


Table of Contents

Acid Reflux, GERD, Heartburn, Indigestion – Are They the Same?

Acid reflux, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn and indigestion, they are all associated with annoying ‘heartburn pain’. However, are they the same or are they all different?

Acid reflux is commonly associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They are not one and the same and if you have acid reflux, that doesn't automatically mean you have GERD.

Acid reflux is an action, whereas GERD is an actual diagnosed disease. The stomach normally produces hydrochloric acid to aid in food breakdown and digestion. You also have a tiny flap, or sphincter, at the end of your esophagus which is the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach.

If the flap is too relaxed or weakened, it will not properly close. This allows that nasty stomach acid to travel upward, or reflux, into the esophagus.

Your stomach has a protective covering, so the acid won't typically harm it; your esophagus does not. This reflux of acid is what typically causes the burning sensation in the chest area, which is where the term heartburn comes from. It’s a pain that feels like your heart is on fire, hence the name.

Next comes indigestion, which gets tagged along with heartburn, and acid reflux is also called acid indigestion.

While they all have different names and are technically different, these conditions are more or less related to each other, and so some of the causes and symptoms are the same. Let’s look at them all in a little more detail.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, which is often called heartburn, manifests itself as a burning pain in the chest, which happens when the stomach acid regurgitates or flows back from the stomach into the esophagus.

It is one of the most common complaints in hospitals in the United States, which is not surprising considering there are approximately 15 million Americans who suffer from acid reflux daily.

If you suffer from acid reflux attacks more than twice a week, then you may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

GERD

GERD is also called heartburn or acid indigestion as the condition can cause chest pains that can last for up to two hours depending on the attack. This digestive disorder usually starts as acid reflux, but when the attacks become more frequent, then it is classified as GERD. It changes from being an annoying bout of heartburn to a ‘gastroesophageal disease.’

In addition to the painful sensation in the stomach or chest area, common tell-tale signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease include a bitter taste at the back of the mouth, chronic coughing and a dry mouth.

If you've ever had heartburn, that is exactly what this disease feels like, only worse. The symptoms seem to become more apparent if you lie down or bend over immediately after finishing a big meal.

If your esophagus keeps getting exposed to stomach acids for an extended period, the acids can start destroying your esophageal lining. Without proper treatment, this can lead to severe sores and even esophageal cancer. Although these complications are rare, they underline the importance of getting yourself examined as soon as you suspect you may be exhibiting the symptoms.

Indigestion

Indigestion is the pain you feel in your stomach. You may have abdominal pain from your indigestion, yet you might not have any acid reflux or heartburn problem. Everyone digests food differently.

Heartburn is caused by the esophageal sphincter not creating the proper seal to stop the acid from the stomach spreading up into the esophagus. Alternatively, if your esophageal sphincter does create a seal, your stomach won’t have the acids rise into the esophagus.

Instead, it is possible that your stomach will create air bubbles. These bubbles transfer down into the intestines and give you a feeling of gas and bloating, which is the pain you feel.

Often, lower abdominal pain due to indigestion has to do with the foods that are hard on your stomach or difficult for your body to digest. Therefore, people attribute the discomfort to eating too much.

While it may be related to your intake volume, indigestion or dyspepsia are also a symptom of an underlying condition such as ulcers, GERD or even a gallbladder problem.

Heartburn

Heartburn is the term we usually hear the most. It’s the burning sensation in your chest which can sometimes reach into your throat. It has quite often been mistaken as a symptom of heart attack, especially when the pain is extreme. Frequent heartburn attacks can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. However, you can suffer from GERD even if you do not have heartburn.

Now You Know the Differences and Similarities

All these conditions are sometimes even wrongfully diagnosed by medical practitioners, because of the similarities in their symptoms and causes.

However, most sufferers will agree that the symptoms of GERD, heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion are usually observed and felt right after bingeing on the wrong types of foods and drinks.

So now you know! Just remember, GERD is a clinical diagnosis, acid reflux is the action of regurgitated acid into the esophagus and heartburn pain and indigestion one of the many symptoms associated with them.

It is advised for anyone who does not benefit from diet changes and lifestyle modifications in an attempt to gain better control of their acid reflux problem, to contact their physician or primary care provider for further treatment options as soon as possible.


What Causes Acid Reflux?

The causes of acid reflux have to do with triggers, which cause the stomach to make more acid than it should, or affect the esophageal sphincter's ability to close and create a tight seal. This closing prevents the symptoms of acid reflux.

Therefore, you need to know the trigger to find out what is causing your acid reflux.

Diet Is A Major Cause, But You Have to Eat

Your diet, the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, can certainly be, and probably are the biggest cause of your acid reflux. For instance, certain alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages can cause your stomach to produce more acid and that can lead to your symptoms.

You should also know that by eating certain fried or fatty foods, you increase your chances of getting acid reflux. In addition to this, lying down too soon after you eat, engaging in too much activity after you eat and smoking are also triggers that can cause you to experience heartburn pain.

Acid reflux occurs due to the abnormal travel of stomach acid into the esophagus, and most commonly occurs after eating. Eating is a must for survival, yet eating the wrong food can sometimes lead to the unpleasant health consequences of having to deal with acid reflux.

Acid production is a normal process for our stomach to properly break down the food particles we ingest. In a normal digestion process, these broken-down particles are pushed into the intestines for further digestion and absorption into the body.

However, patients who suffer from acid reflux disease may have excess acid, and that acid and sometimes food particles, move upward and into the esophagus causing the ‘heartburn’ sensation.

Foods Are Not the Only Cause of Acid Reflux

Heartburn and acid reflux have been linked to several foods, although foods are not the only known cause.

Eating chocolate, foods high in citric acid and spicy, fatty foods can trigger these symptoms. Factor in the time of day you eat, overeating and habits after you eat, and you've got a potential heartburn catastrophe just waiting to happen.

Careful observation of diet, weight management and lifestyle modifications may be all you need to determine what the cause of your painful symptoms are. Several factors can cause acid reflux including:

  • Pregnancy, due to the extra pressure on your organs.
  • Smoking.
  • Beverages - Even your beverage of choice can put you at risk, such as coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.
  • Fatty, greasy foods.
  • Obesity and tight-fitting clothing which increase abdominal pressure.
  • Hiatal hernias which weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and provide a nice hidey-hole for acid to accumulate.
  • Dietary intake of fatty and fried foods and foods high in acid.
  • Lifestyle habits such as lying down directly after eating and overeating.

As we said, there are certain foods that can certainly increase the risk of acid reflux. Certain medicines can also lead to acid reflux. These include sedatives, painkillers and antidepressants.

Any of these may result in a higher probability of suffering from acid reflux. Therefore, changing your lifestyle habits and eating habits may help with finding the cause of your problem and finally relief.


Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease

More and more people are suffering from acid reflux disease each year and the number of sufferers is astounding, therefore early detection and prevention is crucial.

Acid reflux and heartburn symptoms can affect anyone of any age. According to modern research the symptoms hit women as regularly as men. Infants and children are not excluded either. It seems that people 40 and over are more likely to develop symptoms than younger adults.

The symptoms related to acid reflux disease are many. Research tells us approximately 70% of patients diagnosed experience typical symptoms that can include the following:

Heartburn

Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the upper chest. Sometimes the pain may also affect the neck and throat area as well. The acid that refluxes into the esophagus is an erosive chemical.

The stomach has a protective lining, however, the esophagus is not equipped with a defense mechanism to prevent erosion. Probable causes for heartburn pain are heavy meals, lifting and bending, and lying down immediately after eating.

One study showed these symptoms are experienced at night for 75% of patients. These night-time acid reflux sufferers tend to experience a great deal of pain, often more severe than at other times.

Dyspepsia

Researchers relate dyspepsia to occur in about half of those afflicted with acid reflux disease. Upper abdominal pain and postprandial nausea are two common symptoms, along with a fullness in the stomach area. Keep in mind though, dyspepsia can occur in those who do not have an acid reflux disease diagnosis.

Regurgitation

This particularly uncomfortable symptom happens when food particles are forced up to the pharynx and even as far up as the mouth, along with the painful stomach acid. In some cases, this is believed to be contributory to respiratory complications and exacerbations of asthma.

Many times a patient with acid reflux disease does not experience the symptoms related above and instead has a more atypical manifestation.

These symptoms could include the following:

Throat Symptoms

Although not common, some patients may suffer from severe throat symptoms. Hoarseness, dry cough, or even a lump sensation in the phargyneal area can occur. These patients might also have a difficult time swallowing, also known as dysphagia.

Of the more serious complications, a patient might even experience food trapping in the throat which can result in a choking spell and severe chest pain.

Persistent hiccups has also been noted in some patients.

Nausea and Vomiting

Chronic nausea and vomiting are indicators of a stomach problem. Nausea may relentlessly be present for long durations, and vomiting spells may occur on a daily basis.

Respiratory Symptoms

Bronchotracheal irritation caused by acid reflux could cause worsening asthma symptoms and other pulmonary illnesses. Acid works as a bronchial tube constrictor and as a result, could complicate or create respiratory issues.

If untreated, the acid reflux symptoms may continue for as long as the patient allows. Prescription medications are available; however, most are recommended only for short term use as they only treat the symptoms, not the cause. Therefore, look for the cause and target that in your treatment plan.


Acid Reflux and Mucus Production – Is It Acid Reflux or LPR?

Many people suffer from symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn pain and/or indigestion, and many also have a persistent phlegmy throat, or annoying cough and wonder if they may have a cold coming on.

However, just as many people may not know they may have another problem known as Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or LPR.

What is Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or LPR?

LPR is similar to acid reflux. It’s where the esophageal sphincter does not close as it should, allowing the acids in the stomach to flow up and enter the esophagus. However, with LPR is goes higher into the throat.

This causes further irritation. It has also been termed as the ‘silent reflux’ as although there is ‘reflux’ the symptoms are not exactly the same as acid reflux.

Although it is termed ‘silent’, the persistent throat clearing, or coughing is certainly not. If something feels like it’s stuck in the throat, the main instinct is to try and clear the throat.

This is when a person may experience the need to constantly try and clear their throat or try to cough and spit up the mucus or phlegmy obstruction.

Causes of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

The causes are the same for acid reflux or GERD as they are for LPR. That’s why if you suffer from LPR it may feel like you have acid reflux or heartburn. What you eat, what you drink, your lifestyle and your weight are all factors that can cause or contribute to LPR.

There are many foods and drinks that are highly acidic and they should be avoided.

If you are carrying too much belly fat, it’s time to think about reducing your waistline as the extra pressure on your stomach won’t help keep the stomach acids where they should be. The extra pressure will push them upwards, where you don’t want them to be.

Symptoms

As we have said above, some of the symptoms are similar to acid reflux, or that of a developing cold.

Here are a few common symptoms experienced with LPR.

  • Bitter acid taste in the mouth or throat.
  • Mucus or phlegm production that irritates the throat.
  • Mucus that causes the need to clear the throat continually.
  • Coughing – can be a dry cough or a productive cough.
  • Feeling of having a post-nasal drip in the back of the throat.

What Can You Do?

The first thing to do is not self-diagnose. You may have GERD, you may have acid reflux, you may have LPR, or you may have a sinus problem where you are continually fighting a post-nasal drip problem. Seek a professional diagnosis and advice.

If you have been diagnosed with LPR, there are steps you can take yourself to aid in repair and symptom management. You don’t need to solely rely on medications to fix your problem.

  • You can avoid highly acidic foods and eat more alkaline or low acid foods.
  • You can drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks.
  • You can also start modifying your meal quantities and eating times.
  • You can lose weight, especially belly fat, and wear loose-fitting clothing.

If you follow these few steps you will reduce your symptoms and your ‘silent reflux’ will soon become truly silent, because of its absence!


Acid Reflux Diet Strategies

If you suffer from acid reflux you will possibly already know that foods with a high acid content can trigger symptoms, so avoid them! However, if you would like to be proactive then you can also add foods to your meal plan that won’t cause you problems, and can even help restore digestive balance and health.

Preventing acid reflux symptoms is not limited to removing highly acidic foods from your diet, or adding alkaline ones. You can also make helpful behavioral modifications too.

For example, eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals. Big meals leave less room in the stomach for digestion and make symptoms worse. Small meals give your stomach an easier time in performing the digestion process.

It is also beneficial to adopt a diet strategy that will help restore the balance of bacteria in your stomach. You can do that with the help of probiotics.

Get Your Gut Healthy with Probiotics

A great way to keep your digestive system healthy is to increase your intake of probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep your gut healthy, which helps keep the bad bacteria in check.

These ‘bad’ bacteria are generally ever-present and not dangerous in themselves. However, they become toxic when conditions (usually brought on by poor diet choices) allow them to explode in numbers.

The bad bacteria may be causing you gastrointestinal problems. It is easy to develop an overload of bad bacteria in your stomach, especially if you are fond of eating highly processed, fatty foods and high-GI, sugar-rich ones.

To improve your gut flora ratios, you can purchase probiotic supplements or eat probiotic foods. For example, yogurt is considered a natural probiotic. Other probiotic foods include kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut.

Although there are no conclusive findings on the effects of probiotics and fermented foods on acid reflux, many people have claimed success by adding probiotics to their diet. Scientists suggest the reason is that they fight the Helicobacter pylori bacterial strain, which is correlated to GERD.

Next, you can add foods to your diet to help combat symptoms. You'll want to make sure your meals include complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates’ high fiber content helps absorb excess acid in the stomach, making them a good way to prevent acid reflux exacerbations. 

Good sources are whole grain foods and fruits and vegetables.

Bananas

Bananas are a yellow bundle of antacid goodness. They are an excellent source of potassium and are full of fiber. The fiber content is great for your digestive system. Another special benefit of bananas is that they help coat an irritated esophageal lining, thereby helping combat discomfort.

Green Vegetables

There are many green vegetables you can add to your diet because they are highly alkaline, which also means low acid. These include broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, celery and asparagus.

Lean Meat

Acid reflux can present a dilemma if you are a red meat lover. However, you can still eat red meats such as beef, lamb or pork. Simply choose lean, less fatty cuts, and cook the meat in a healthy manner. Grilling is a great option as it is considered to be a low-fat cooking method.

White meats are your best option. Skinless chicken and fish are fine. The trick is to stay away from highly processed meats as they will not be friendly to your condition.

Regulating and managing your dietary intake is the first step towards easing the symptoms of acid reflux. If you are determined to make your body healthier, then you have to be self-disciplined and eat the right foods and follow diet strategies that work best for you.


Acid Reflux - Foods to Avoid

Dietary restrictions will be essential if you suffer from acid reflux, and want to prevent it. The best way to treat acid reflux is first to determine the foods or food types that are causing the problem. The best way to achieve that is to start an elimination diet.

If you aren't sure exactly what foods are causing your symptoms, keep a daily log of the foods you eat and your mealtimes, and write down the exact symptoms you get for each variation. This will give you a better idea of problem times and foods.

You'll soon see which foods you should avoid, and which foods are safe for you to eat. With simple but diligent observation, acid reflux may soon be eliminated. There are several foods you will want to eliminate straight away if you suffer from acid reflux. These are foods that are highly acidic and most likely to be the culprits.

Common Problem Causing Foods

Here are a few foods that are known to cause problems with many acid reflux sufferers. They may be causing problems for you too.

  • Fatty Meats - These include pork, lamb and beef.
  • Fried Foods – They are not healthy in any diet, so avoid them, or at least reduce them.
  • Refined Grains – These include white flour and white bread.
  • Dairy Products – The high fat content that can cause problems.
  • Sugary Foods - Sugar-laden foods, such as cakes and biscuits.
  • Citrus Fruits – These include oranges and lemons.

Let’s take a look in more detail.

Fatty Meats

To help keep your body’s pH level balanced, steer clear of fatty meats. Many of these are in the red meat food group. If you eat meat, choose lean cuts and stay away from processed meats, such as hamburgers and bacon. The fat content will exacerbate your symptoms.

Foods high in fat content take longer to digest, therefore your stomach will need to produce more acid to break down the food ingested.

Fried Foods

Fried foods are cooked in fats or oils, and this adds to a fatty overload. Most oils and fats used to fry foods are not considered healthy food options today, although they may have been recommended in the past. Plus, if you eat too many fried foods regularly, you will very likely gain weight, which doesn’t help your acid reflux issues.

Refined Grains

Refined grains are processed, and most of the goodness, such as the fiber, is stripped from them. Avoid white bread, white flour, white rice etc. Whole grains are good for you, so make sure you choose them over the refined products.

Dairy Products

You may find that some dairy products, usually those with high-fat content, cause you problems more than other dairy products. The fat content can affect your stomach acidity, and some dairy products may also make you feel phlegmy in the throat.

Sugary Foods

Excess sugar can be detrimental to your health in more ways than one. Therefore, sugar should be avoided whether you have acid reflux or not. However, that’s another topic of discussion. If you love dessert, you have probably had your fair share of acid reflux.

Highly processed, sugar-laden foods should be avoided at all costs. The ice-cream and cream on top of your desserts add to the problem. Sugar or honey, especially in small amounts, will not trigger an attack. However, it’s the mixture or combination of the sugar and refined grains or processed foods that make a cocktail of problems.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are acidic. Therefore, they can cause acid reflux and heartburn pain. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes can lead to acid reflux attacks so watch out for these fruits. This doesn’t mean eliminating them, hopefully, but don’t over-indulge.

In conclusion, keep your food diary, eat in moderation, watch what you eat and avoid all foods that are highly acidic. Acid reflux can be extremely discomforting. However, it should be reassuring to know that you do have a large degree of control over how much it affects you.


Acid Reflux and Beverages - What to Drink and What to Avoid

A common myth for treating acid reflux and heartburn pain is drinking a glass of milk. While the relief may seem immediate, milk also produces a chemical reaction in your stomach, causing the acid pumps to discharge, thereby causing the return of symptoms.

To better manage the effects of acid reflux, here are a few drinks that you may want to avoid or include in your day. It is important for you to take note of what drinks do ease or exacerbate your own symptoms.

Coffee and Tea

If coffee or tea are your beverage of choice, then beware, as they are acidic, so they can exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux.

The caffeine can also relax the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, which will allow acid reflux to occur. Therefore, it may help if you look at the different caffeine levels too. An 8-ounce black coffee contains up to 165 mg of caffeine, whereas decaffeinated coffee contains only 5 mg of caffeine.

If you cannot start your morning without a hot beverage, then try changing to drinking decaffeinated coffee, or switch to tea. Although lower in caffeine, some tea is also acidic.

Black tea is slightly acidic, with a pH between 6 and 7. One tea that has many health benefits is green tea. Green tea is a tea you can drink as it has a pH level of 7 to 10.

Chamomile tea is another tea you can add to the list. This tea has a pH level of 6 to 7. Chamomile tea can help balance the level of acidity in your stomach.

You can also take chamomile tea before bed to reduce the risk of having an acid reflux attack during the night. The stress relieving properties of chamomile tea makes it a great tea anytime.

Another tea which helps minimize the symptoms of acid reflux is ginger tea. Ginger is a great home remedy for relieving symptoms, so drinking it as a tea is a great choice. You can boil or simmer ginger root slices and use it as tea, or buy ginger tea ready to use.

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol is generally an irritant to the digestive system, which can lead to more acid production in the stomach. Studies show that whether you drink wine, spirits or beer, alcohol can trigger the symptoms of acid reflux.

If you do not want to live without drinking alcohol, then at least don’t drink for three hours before retiring to bed. This will help reduce painful symptoms at night.

Carbonated Drinks

The bubbles that give carbonated drinks the fizz is carbon dioxide gas which expands when it reaches your stomach. With the pressure applied to the stomach’s sphincter, you can only expect stomach acid to rise into the esophagus. The sugar content also worsens acid reflux problems.

Even low sugar or zero sugar carbonated drinks and sparkling water can aggravate the symptoms of acid reflux, as the carbonation puts a stress on the sphincter and worsens the symptoms. The low sugar carbonated drinks still contain carbonic acid. 

Drinks with Low Acidity Levels Are Your Best Choice

To better understand what drinks are best, look at their acidity level. Think of a scale rated 0 to 14, where 0 to 6 is highly acidic, where 7 is in the middle, so it is classed as neutral, and 8 to 14 are low acid or alkaline.

Once you understand this, avoid high acidic beverages in the 0 to 6 range. Make sure your drinks are on the 8 to 14 side of the scale. For example, citrus fruit juices are in the pH level of 3, while most caffeine drinks have a pH level between 3 and 5. So these are drinks to avoid.

If you want to play safe, avoid acid reflux pain and become healthier than you thought possible, drink water! That’s what nature intended.


Medications for Acid Reflux

If you suffer with acid reflux you may have often reached for a commercial medication in order to get immediate pain relief. There are several medication treatments in the market today promoted for acid reflux symptom control, and many are available in stores and pharmacies.

The problem is with any medication, they are only providing short-term relief, they are not solving your underlying problem. It is best to talk to your physician about any other medications you are currently taking, before you go buying something over the counter.

Physicians have a complete line of medications in their treatment arsenal available for acid reflux symptoms. The drug categories are outlined below.

Antacids

These are used in an effort to neutralize stomach acid and usually only taken for mild and occasional symptoms. Most of these can be purchased over the counter and are relatively inexpensive. These are usually the first recommendation by health care professionals for treatment of acid reflux.

Magnesium and aluminum are commonly found in antacids, and several others have added calcium. However, while antacids can provide immediate relief for mild acid reflux symptoms, this is only a short-term remedy, as it will not help reduce the esophageal inflammation brought about by GERD - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Liquid Preparations

Most of these are available over the counter and are used primarily for soothing the throat and esophageal area from the burning pains associated with acid reflux. They are most commonly available with a minty flavor.

The liquid antacid can help line the esophagus, but it can only provide temporary relief because once the antacid is out of the system, acid reflux symptoms can be felt again. Don’t take too much as it can lead to constipation or diarrhea.

H2 Blockers

A histamine blocker acts as an acid preventative. They block the initial process of the acid producing pumps in the stomach. Histamine, a normal chemical produced in the body, promotes acid secretion. When blocked, there is less chance of acid reflux.

The medication should be taken about 30 minutes to an hour before meals for full effect, and the relief can last from six hours to a full day. In more severe cases, a patient might have to take the medication twice a day. As an added bonus, the H2 blockers sometimes improve asthma-related symptoms in patients with both asthma and acid reflux.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

This nifty acid reflux drug category works somewhat like the H2 blockers. They don't block the production of acid, but they do decrease the acid secretions. Physicians often prescribe a PPI for symptom relief and to give the esophagus lining time to heal from the erosive effects of stomach acid.

Among the most popular proton pump inhibitors are omeprazole and lansoprazole. However, like most medications, there are a series of potential side effects. Some of those associated with PPI drug therapy are headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, constipation, and itching.

Long-term use of this medication can increase your risk of colon infections, and problems absorbing vitamin B12.

Antispasmodics

These are used for the prevention of acid reflux and non-acid reflux. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) sometimes has problems properly opening and closing, thus allowing the acid to reflux. When an antispasmodic is used, it attempts to help control the muscle movements of the LES.

Most of these medications may be available to you over the counter; however, please consult your doctor before self-diagnosing and self-administering any of these medications.

These are all synthetic medications, so there will definitely be side effects, all of which will differ in their severity. While these medications are considered ‘generally safe,’ it is still highly recommended that you look at alternative natural treatment options to heal the problem.

After all, you want to get rid of your acid reflux, not create another problem due to the medicines you may be swallowing.


Ease Acid Reflux Naturally and Fast

The symptoms of acid reflux usually occur after you eat, and the larger your meals, the more severe the attacks. Acid reflux is the regurgitation of acid from the stomach to the esophagus.

If you want to minimize the symptoms, a first preventative step is to make sure you eat smaller meals, to lessen the pressure on the abdomen.

However, if you have eaten in moderation and still feel the acid reflux attack starting to hit, here’s what you can do to ease your symptoms fast using natural solutions.

Mustard

Mustard may be acidic because it contains vinegar, but it is also alkalizing, which is what you need. You need to neutralize the effects of the acid. If you’re experiencing the warning signs, then eat a teaspoon of mustard to balance your body’s pH levels and minimize the symptoms.

Baking Soda

Baking soda has a high pH level and can help neutralize stomach acid. When you are about to have an attack or if you are in the middle of one, take a teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum, preferably bicarbonate gum, will help stimulate saliva production. When swallowed, your saliva will help dilute the unwanted stomach acid. When you chew gum, the tendency is for you to swallow more frequently, and when you do that, you are able to clear the acid that irritates the esophagus.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera is a common household remedy for many things, including acid reflux attacks. If you are having an attack, you can immediately get relief by drinking the juice of aloe vera.

There are studies which show the efficacy of aloe vera juice when used as an immediate treatment. Therefore, this succulent is a proven instant remedy you can use without any adverse effects.

Many people claim that this remedy is better than taking proton pump inhibitors. There are aloe vera softgels you can use, but the aloe vera juice is more effective in treating symptoms.

Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the most common and effective home remedies for acid reflux is apple cider vinegar. If you love apple cider vinegar you probably use it for many ailments. It is an effective natural treatment that provides instant relief against acid reflux.

While it is actually introducing additional acid to the stomach, it works by normalizing your stomach’s pH level, which is what relieves your acid reflux symptoms. Therefore, it is an excellent remedy to try and to help get rid of annoying, painful symptoms fast.

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t taste pleasant to many people, so to help you get started, mix a couple of tablespoons in a glass of water. Drink the whole glass of water and if you need to, wash it down with another glass of water. This will help two-fold, as water is another excellent remedy to help dilute the acid.

If you can't stand the idea of using apple cider vinegar, then make sure you have fresh apples on hand and eat an apple. Apples have a similar effect as the apple cider vinegar without the unpleasant taste. Apples also help to neutralize the acid.

As you can see there are quite a few home remedies you can keep on hand to relieve symptoms fast. They are effective, natural and worth a try!


Relieve Acid Reflux with Lifestyle Changes and Natural Methods

If you want to keep acid reflux away without worrying about the side effects of medications, then you can opt for natural treatment methods instead.

This will include dietary and other lifestyle changes which may not be easy at first, but will be worth it due to the pain-free benefits you’ll receive.

You may be a person who feels that medication is your only option and that natural remedies or treatments are just a bunch of old wives’ tales that couldn’t possibly be better.

However, many do work, and because they do, many are changing their attitude towards natural versus medicinal. Also, most pharmaceutical solutions have unwanted side effects – some are worse than the targeted condition.

Here are a few natural steps you can take to get started.

Watch Your Diet, Weight and Eat in Moderation

The first step is to look at your diet, the types of foods you are eating, what ones to avoid, and to modify your meal portions. Most people who eat like it’s their last meal usually suffer from digestive-related issues, such as acid reflux.

When you eat more than what your stomach can hold comfortably, you put more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that closes the stomach preventing the acid rising into the esophagus.

If it remains open, then it is easy for the stomach acids to rise, so stop eating large meals and eat in moderation to avoid the nasty symptoms.

If you stay faithful to eating the right foods, and in moderation, then losing excess weight will naturally follow. Too much belly fat will put pressure on your abdomen. If you can maintain a healthy weight, you will minimize the symptoms of acid reflux.

Another tip is to chew your food completely. Allow about 20 minutes for each of your meals, instead of bolting down your serving. When you chew your food properly, you're creating an ideal environment for the stomach to effectively digest the material without overworking and producing more acid than necessary.

After you finish eating, refrain from lying down for at least 45 minutes. If this is the last meal of the day, make sure you give yourself about 2 to 3 hours before retiring for the evening. Give your body time to completely digest your food.

This way when you finally call it a night, your stomach is empty or at least partially empty, and there is no additional pressure caused by lying down. Gravity helps reduce acid reflux. If you lie down after eating, even if only for a 20-minute power nap, you are essentially opening the door for acid to reflux.

Raise Your Head While You Sleep

The best way to stop acid reflux symptoms at night is to sleep with your head raised. You can raise the head part of your bed or mattress, in order to get a little help from gravity. This helps keep the reflux from entering the throat.

The easiest way to raise the top of your bed is to place books or blocks under the front legs of the bed. If that doesn’t suit you, there are foam pillows shaped like a wedge that may feel better.

These wedge pillows are designed ergonomically to provide a comfortable sleep. Many acid reflux sufferers use these pillows with great success.

Herbal Remedies

Ginger has been used for thousands of years to treat symptoms of acid reflux because it can neutralize the acids in the stomach. You can eat it raw, drink ginger tea, or mix it in with your meals. Any one of these options will provide you with long-lasting relief.

Peppermint is another natural herbal remedy. If you look, most of the medications for acid reflux contain significant amounts of peppermint oil that plays a vital role in providing relief. Peppermint can be chewed in the form of chewing gum, or you can chew the peppermint leaves. You can also drink peppermint tea.

Cumin is another herb to add to the list. You can add cumin to a glass of water and drink after your meals. This helps reduce the production of stomach gas. Cumin will also boost the rate of digestion.

Acupuncture

One natural therapy you might like to try is acupuncture. There are studies which have shown acupuncture has provided relief from acid reflux and GERD, where commercial drugs have proved ineffective.

Researchers from one university (Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine) found that the esophageal motility was improved with regular acupuncture sessions. This was evident in a test conducted, which showed an improvement in the lower esophageal sphincter function.

Choose Your Treatment Options

As you can see, treatment options for acid reflux are many. You don’t have to always use prescription or over-the-counter medications for acid blocking effects. You should make lifestyle changes and dietary modifications as your first line of natural defense.

Your physician can also give you a ‘good foods’ and ‘bad foods’ list, as well as instruct you on anything that needs to be changed regarding your sleep positions and other lifestyle behaviors.

Likely, your provider will encourage you to limit or eliminate coffee, chocolate, fried foods, caffeine and carbonated beverages, and even advise smokers to break that habit. You can then also try natural supplements and herbal remedies to aid in symptom control.


Conclusion

When stomach acid seeps into the esophagus, it's not a comfortable feeling. Your esophagus does not have the protective lining the stomach has so that acid causes an erosive effect and if left untreated can lead to more serious conditions.

Your diet and lifestyle are among the most common factors for experiencing acid reflux, regardless of age. If you are on the heavy side and you smoke or drink alcohol, then you increase your chances of getting acid reflux.

While you can prevent the condition by eating healthy food and moderating your food and beverage intake, you can manage an existing condition through over the counter medications or lifestyle changes.

Many people have overcome near-constant discomfort by following the suggestions in this publication. You don’t have to continue to live with yours either, but you will need to make some dietary changes.

If doing so does not provide relief, or you are experiencing severe symptoms, see your doctor. Symptoms of acid reflux can be similar to other conditions that may be even more critical.

Gut health is ‘core’ to our overall wellbeing, so do whatever needs to be done to restore it to full health.

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