Acid reflux commonly referred to as heartburn is a result of stomach acid being pushed up the esophagus causing pain and discomfort. Stomach acid is highly volatile, meaning that the pain and burning can be extreme and can even damage the lining of the esophagus and throat in severe cases.
While this type of heartburn is primarily caused by bad eating habits and indigestion, there is a wide range of health conditions, illnesses, and diseases that can lead to acid reflux. Crohn’s disease which is an inflammatory condition of the stomach can result in heartburn.
Pregnant women often suffer from heartburn in the second to last trimester of their pregnancy due to pressure on the stomach from the fetus. Failure of either the lower or upper esophageal sphincter to close after swallowing or eating can also result in acid reflux that is constant and consistent. The stomach acid, therefore, gets pushed up the esophagus and normally results in damage to the lining.
Treatment for heartburn can range from taking antacids to surgical intervention. Surgery will be required if malfunctioning valves or sphincters are the cause. In all cases, some lifestyle changes will be recommended.
Lifestyle changes may include a change of diet as well as exercise. Obesity can result in more regular and severe cases of heartburn. Excluding certain foods that are acid producing is essential. Acid producing foods result in the stomach producing more acid and these include alcohol, dairy products, meat, oily food, processed food, etc.
Healthier food options like fruits and vegetables are considered to be alkaline foods as they do not result in the stomach producing more acid. They provide the body with acid, therefore negating the need for acid production. Excessive stomach acid is another cause of heartburn.
Water is another essential ingredient to combat acid reflux. Water dilutes the stomach acid and helps flush excess acid from the body. It is advisable to drink water after every meal to assist in digestion and neutralize stomach acid. Water can also reduce the symptoms of heartburn.
If lifestyle changes are not made, then the heartburn or condition causing the heartburn will continue to aggravate the condition. It is recommended to seek medical diagnosis, advice, and treatment as soon as possible to determine the underlying cause of constant and consistent or chronic heartburn before damage is done to the esophagus, throat or trachea.