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Acid reflux is a condition affecting 15 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. population, reports Healthline. This equals as many as 30 million people per month. The condition causes burning pain in the lower chest area. This pain is known as heartburn and it occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. People who suffer bouts of acid reflux two or more times per week have a condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.) It’s the most common gut condition affecting people in the U.S.
Other symptoms indicative of acid reflux include:
Some people experience the symptoms of GERD severely enough that they think they are having a heart attack. This medical condition sends thousands of worried people to the Emergency Room every single year.
Acid reflux occurs when acid content from the stomach flows into the esophagus, into the fullest, and finally, into the mouth. The acid, hydrochloric acid, helps break down food and protects the body against pathogens like bacteria. The stomach lining adapts to the acid so it isn’t affected, but the esophagus isn’t protected. The gastroesophageal sphincter acts as a valve that lets food enter the stomach, but prevents it from re-entering the esophagus. The valve fails under acid reflux conditions and the stomach contents are regurgitated back into the esophagus. This causes the heartburn-like symptoms that sufferers experience.
Acid reflux affects men and women of all ages. Many complaints of acid reflux are in response to a lifestyle factor, but sometimes it is not caused by a preventable condition. A hiatal hernia is one such cause of acid reflux that isn’t preventable. This hernia causes a hole in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to enter into the chest cavity.
Other risk factors for acid reflux include:
Foods that may cause or increase risks of acid reflux/GERD include:
Studies show that changing your diet is just as effective as prescription treatments in many acid reflux cases. Change your diet, remove foods that may be the culprit and you may find no other line of treatment is necessary.
Over-the-counter acid reflux treatments include antacids and other acid-neutralizing medications such as Prilosec, TUMS, and Zantac. Most sufferers try to beat acid reflux using these remedies first. If these treatments along with diet and lifestyle changes do not offer any relief, a visit to the doctor may find a better solution. The doctor may have several treatments he can offer, including PPIs, H2 blockers and alginate drugs. PPIs and H2s are most commonly prescribed to patients because they’re deemed safe and effective for most users. However, not everyone can safely use them. Your doctor will evaluate your health conditions, medications that you take, etc. to make sure a prescription medication is safe to use.
Lifestyle changes may also decrease the frequency and occurrence of acid reflux. Important lifestyle changes that may benefit your medical condition include:
Lifestyle and diet changes considerably benefit acid reflux conditions. You may soon find that acid reflux doesn’t occur as often or that it isn’t as painful when these simple changes take place. It’s quite simple to minimize the risks and worries that acid reflux causes.
Left untreated, acid reflux/GERD can lead to numerous health complications and concerns on top of the daily struggles to swallow or maintain a normal lifestyle. It increases the risk of developing cancer, and persistent stomach acid damages the esophagus in numerous ways. Untreated acid reflux may cause health concerns including:
These issues are a few of the many that potentially result from untreated acid reflux. If the daily burdens aren’t concerning enough, these health conditions should certainly urge you to get treatment.
Acid reflux is a painful condition that threatens your daily life and the normal activities that you enjoy. Ignoring the signs of acid reflux is not easy considering how painful many people find it to be. Such a decision is also harmful to your overall quality-of-life. If you’re amongst the people affected by acid reflux, use the information above to help ease the symptoms and to get the help that you need to resolve this complaint quickly. With so many treatment options available, there is no reason to live your life bothered by this condition. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll overcome acid reflux.
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