Acid reflux occurs when the acidified liquid of the stomach moves backward into the esophagus. It is a common digestive condition that creates a burning sensation in the lower chest area and often occurs after a hearty meal. Acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. Over-the-counter pills and lifestyle changes are possible treatments, although some people require prescription medications that reduce acid production by the stomach. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 15 million Americans experience it every day.
Pyrosis is the medical term for heartburn. It is a burning sensation in the chest and throat that occurs when stomach acid splashes into the esophagus. A burning feeling may also radiate into the mouth. Heartburn often increases when the person lies down after a meal. It typically lasts for a few hours and is triggered by commonly eaten foods. The good news is that heartburn can be somewhat controlled by avoiding common trigger foods including garlic, citrus fruits, alcohol, chocolate, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, and peppermint.
Regurgitation is one of the common symptoms of acid reflux. It has been described as a wet burp caused by the presence of undigested blood or food. Acid reflux can result in sudden retching with a bitter or sour taste in the mouth. If vomiting or choking occurs while a person is asleep, it can prove fatal.
Bad breath is another characteristic of acid reflux. This can be caused by regurgitating small amounts of undigested food, stomach acid, or bile. When a bitter taste in the mouth follows an episode of heartburn, the person is probably suffering from acid reflux rather than simple heartburn.
Production of excessive saliva is a clear indicator that a person has acid reflux. It is the body's natural reflex to rid itself of an unwanted irritant in the esophagus, similar to what happens before vomiting. Acid reflux results in hypersalivation to clear the passage and buffer for excess acid.
Also called dysphagia, damage and healing caused by acid reflux can result in scarring. This causes the lower esophagus tissues to swell, making it difficult to swallow. Reportedly, 7% to 9% of adults over the age of 50 suffer from this condition. Swallowing food can become an extremely difficult and painful process.
Nausea is a part of many ailments, including acid reflux. Indigestion can be a symptom of GERD but is not always present, making it more difficult to attribute nausea to acid reflux. In a small number of people, the only symptom of reflux is nausea, but others may experience abdominal pain ranging from moderate distress to vomiting. Nausea accompanied by a burning feeling in the throat after a meal may signal acid reflux.
Acid reflux can trigger several respiratory symptoms, like coughing and wheezing. This may be caused by stomach acid entering the back of the throat and triggering the cough reflex. This symptom is quite persistent during the daytime and is not accompanied by signs of postnasal drip. The body naturally tries to get rid of the refluxed stomach contents by coughing. Contact a doctor for an esophageal pH test for breathing problems related to acid reflux.
Many people with acid reflux suffer from a chronic sore throat. It often feels like a lump that does not go away. People with GERD are often heard attempting to clear their throats. Pain in the throat following a meal may be a symptom of heartburn.
Standing or walking is beneficial for people on the brink of an attack. Gravity aids in digestion and helps prevent stomach acid from reaching the esophagus. Raise the head of the bed to reduce episodes of acid reflux. Refrain from eating two to three hours before going to bed to reduce stomach acid and allow the stomach to empty its contents.
Many people have their worst bouts of acid reflux at night. Follow the same suggestions as for pain to help reduce waking at night due to acid reflux symptoms. Sleeping in a recliner or elevating the head of the bed can also help.
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