Anyone who has ever experienced prolonged or regular acid reflux knows how uncomfortable the condition can be. Acid reflux, also known as heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), in more severe, frequent casesis one of the most common conditions that Americans seek medical attention for.
Acid Reflux Causes
Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition that causes a burning sensation in the lower chest region and occurs when stomach acid retreats up your food pipe. While the stomach can withstand the strong effects of stomach acid, your esophagus can not.
Unsure whether you have acid reflux or may be experiencing GERD? There are certain risk factors to look for. For starters, acid reflux doesn't discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time. However, there are many lifestyle factors that can more easily control the frequency at which you may experience acid reflux, including:
- Lack of Physical Activity
- Taking Certain Medications, Including Painkillers, Antidepressants, and Antihistamines
Pregnancy can also increase your likelihood of experiencing acid reflux because pregnancy places more pressure on your internal organs. Additionally, if you suffer from a hiatus or a hiatal hernia, you may experience acid reflux more often than others. People with this condition actually have a hole in their diaphragms, which results in some of their stomach entering their chest cavity. In these rare cases, GERD is common.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
GERD is a term used to describe prolonged heartburn that occurs multiple times per week. GERD is more serious than the occasional bout of heartburn and may require medical attention. Signs you may have GERD include:
- Dry Cough
- Chest or Abdominal Pain
- Dental Erosion
- Bad Breath
- Difficulty Swallowing
Acid Reflux Diagnosis
If you think you may have acid reflux or GERD, schedule a visit with your doctor. To make a proper diagnosis, your doctor may perform an exam and discuss your symptoms. If they think you may have GERD, they will likely recommend the following procedures:
Acid Reflux Treatment
There are a few non-medical and medical treatments for acid reflux. Non-medical treatment options involve mostly lifestyle changes, including:
- Lose Weight
- Avoid Abdominal Pressure
- Quit Smoking
- Improve Posture
Common medical treatment options for acid reflux include the following:
- PPIs, Such as Rabeprazole, Omeprazole, and Esomeprazole
- H2 Blockers, Such as Ranitidine, Famotidine, and Cimetidine
- Over-the-Counter Antacids
Typically, PPIs and H2 blockers are for individuals diagnosed with GERD. They're more powerful than traditional antacids and help limit the production of stomach acid.
Acid Reflux Prognosis
For most people, acid reflux is simply an annoying condition that rears its head every once in a while. Antacids are usually enough to get the condition under control, so the prognosis is pretty good. Even if you're diagnosed with GERD, there are so many treatment options available that there is no reason you can't enjoy life to its fullest. As with many medical conditions, you will have to follow some rules, make lifestyle adjustments, and work closely with your doctor to keep the condition under control.