Causes of Acid Reflux and Its Treatments

Acid Reflux is a condition in which the stomach contents including stomach acid comes up from the stomach to the esophagus and a frequent occurrence of this condition causes a disease which is known as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

When a person eats the food, it goes from his mouth to pharynx and passes through the esophagus before going to the stomach. At the entrance of the stomach, there is a valve known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). Actually, the human stomach produces strong acids and enzymes which are required for the digestion of the food. The stomach has a mechanism to protect itself from these acids and enzymes; however, the esophagus does not have one. As a result, if these strong acids reach the esophagus, they may damage it. Here comes the role of LES, which allows the food to go from the esophagus to the stomach, but stops the acid coming back from stomach to esophagus.

If the LES does not close properly after the food has passed, the stomach acid may leak through it and move up to esophagus. This may lead to a burning sensation (known as heartburn) in the area from the upper abdomen to the throat. The other common symptoms caused by the acid reflux are hiccups, regurgitation, dental erosion, chest pain, hoarseness, dysphagia and even asthma.

Acid reflux is often caused by the problems associated with the lifestyle of an individual. However, there are certain medical issues also that may trigger it. If somebody is taking heavy meals and lying down right after it, he may suffer from acid reflux and the associated symptoms. The problem may further be aggravated if somebody is consuming fatty, fried or spicy foods. Foods rich in chili, garlic, onions, tomato, mint, chocolate etc., citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons, beverages like alcohol, soft-drinks, tea, coffee etc. can also cause this problem. Smoking may cause mucosal damage, increase in acid secretion, reduction in saliva formulation, reduction in LES muscle function etc., all of which lead to acid reflux. Other causes that may cause acid reflux are being overweight or obese, wrong practices in exercising, taking aspirin or ibuprofen etc. Apart from these lifestyle related factors, pregnancy may also cause acid reflux in women. This happens because of an increased level of hormones and pressure from the growing uterus. Another abnormality known as hiatal hernia may sometimes cause acid reflux in a person. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm.

Acid reflux is normally a minor ailment and all of us might have gone through it. However, the symptoms associated with it are very discomforting and affect one's quality of life. If proper care is not taken, the acid reflux problem may turn troublesome and may cause mucus lining in esophagus to get damaged and become ulcerated. If you go to a physician with this ailment, he may prescribe you some antacids, acid suppressor, pro-kinetic drugs or propton pump inhibitors. However, these medicines must be taken when extremely required and for a short time only because they have their side effects. However, to treat this problem naturally, proper emphasis must be given to improve on the lifestyle issues, which cause it. If somebody is obese, he must try to lose weight first. Patient must stop smoking and consuming alcohol. He must also lower the intake of the foods / drinks outlined above. He must eat his meals at least two hours prior to lying down and while lying down he must make sure to raise his head by 4-5 inches with the help of a pillow. He must also avoid wearing tight fitting clothes and belts.