Acid Reflux 101

by Sally Brown
(Miami, Florida, US)

Digestive problems are common – in fact, studies show that most people have at least slight complaints of digestive problems from time to time. However, for some people, digestive problems are not an occasional disruption to their life, but rather, they are a daily interruption.

Digestion begins in the mouth where the food is chewed. As the food is swallowed and enters the stomach it follows through the esophagus.

The stomach releases acid and pepsin as part of the digestion process. And anyone that has ever suffered with heartburn or acid reflux will recognize that the burning sensation is a result of acid that backs up from the stomach. This happens when the esophagus fails and the stomach acid seeps back into it.

Other symptoms can include the presence of acid in the mouth, hoarseness, and even chest pain. When acid reflux is severe it can be very serious and result in respiratory problems, continuous coughing, and difficulty breathing. Prolonged severe acid reflux can also result in serious damage to the esophagus. Even infants and children can develop acid reflux.

With infants, this often happens due to an immature digestive system. The good news is that most infants grow out of the disease by the time they are one year old.

The causes for acid reflux in children are usually the same as with adults; the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus relaxes or the pressure below the esophagus increases, which leads to seepage of stomach acid into the esophagus, resulting in acid reflux.

Acid reflux, or heartburn, is very common during pregnancy. This is because of increased hormonal levels and increased pressure in the stomach. Other factors that can contribute to acid reflux include obesity, overeating, particular foods and drinks, and even some medications.

There are some natural remedies for treating acid reflux, the most common are; maintaining a normal weight, eliminating nicotine and alcohol, avoiding exercise right after meals, maintaining good posture, eating a healthy diet, and eating the last meal of the day at least four hours before bedtime.

Some of the foods that should be avoided include foods high in fat content, anything fried, chocolate, coffee, and other beverages that produce high levels of acid in the stomach.

Proper diet is a must if you suffer with acid reflux. Besides eating a healthy diet, it is important to have the last meal of the day hours before bedtime and to avoid lying down after a meal.

Elevating the head of the bed is very likely to help alleviate the acid reflux by working with gravity. By elevating the head of the bed 6 – 8 inches and not eating before bedtime, the patient is much less likely to suffer.

There are numerous over the counter drugs as well as prescription medications available. And if the case is extremely severe surgery can be performed.