What is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux happens when acid from the stomach moves up your oesophagus. The entrance of your stomach has a ‘valve’; this ‘valve’ is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Under normal conditions, the LES will close as soon as the food passes through it. If the LES does not close all the way, or if the frequency at which it opens is high then the acid that is produced and secreted into the stomach can make it’s way up your oesophagus. This will lead to symptoms such as burning sensation in the chest and discomfort, this is what is commonly referred to as heartburn. If the acid reflux symptoms occur more than two times a week, you are likely to have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What Causes Acid Reflux?
A common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality known as a hiatal hernia. This happens when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle that separates your stomach from the thoracic cavity, which contains the lungs, heart, oesophagus and trachea. The diaphragm helps to keep the acid in your stomach because it contains muscles that stop the food/acid from coming up your oesophagus. If you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move freely up into your oesophagus and cause symptoms associated with acid reflux.
Other common risk factors include those who are obese, as well as those who are pregnant, smokers, those who suffer from stress/anxiety and it can also be a side effect of some medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Large and heavy meals are obviously implicated in causing acid reflux as well as eating 3-4 hours before you go to bed, this is because this food does not have enough time to be processed in the stomach and therefore when you lie down, you are likely to begin to feel the burning sensation in the chest.
How Can I Treat Acid Reflux?
Most of the time, acid reflux can be treated by adopting positive lifestyle changes such as eating light meals at appropriate times, losing weight, not smoking and avoiding sugary carbonated drinks as well as other triggers that you may have experienced in the past that cause you to experience acid reflux.
If the lifestyle changes have not had any positive impact then there are some over the counter preparations available, such as antacids like Rennie or preparations that act as rafting agents by coating aggravated tissues in the stomach and oesophagus to help protect them from the stomach acid,
The most effective type of treatment for acid reflux are the prescription treatments that are available at Cloud Pharmacy. This includes a class of medications known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs such as omeprazole and lansoprazole work by inhibiting the production of acid in your stomach all together. Stomach acid production is controlled by three substances in the stomach. The PPI blocks the primary substance that is responsible for acid production and is therefore the final medication that is prescribed when all other avenues fail because this medication is highly effective and has few side-effects.