An Introduction To Acid Reflux

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Have you ever experienced a burning pain in your chest? 

Do you sometimes feel as if food is stuck in your throat, even when you know there is nothing there? 

Do you have a chronic sore throat, even though no infection is present?

If you have answered “yes” to one or more of the above, then you may be experiencing a condition called acid reflux. 

What is acid reflux?

The term “acid reflux” is used to describe a common condition whereby stomach acid, and sometimes food, escapes backwards into the esophagus. Over time, this can lead to the esophagus becoming damaged or ulcerated.

Who gets acid reflux? 

  • People with known stomach issues, such as a hiatal hernia, are also more prone to acid reflux.
  • The condition is more commonly found in smokers. 
  • Acid reflux is more common in women than men, though both genders can experience the condition. 
  • Acid reflux is also very common during pregnancy. In many cases it will subside after giving birth, but for some, the condition may linger. 

What are the symptoms of acid reflux? 

As well as the symptoms described in the intro, you may have acid reflux if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Bloating 
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort 
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Wheezing or a dry cough
  • Hoarseness 
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • A sour taste in the mouth or at the back of the throat, which is usually particularly noticeable after eating

The above symptoms are usually intermittent. You may find that you only experience symptoms after eating certain types of food, or when lying in bed or bending down. 

How can acid reflux be treated?

It’s always helpful to err on the side of caution and discuss any symptoms you have with your GP, so this should always be your first port of call if you believe you are experiencing acid reflux. Checking in with a doctor is especially important if you experience burning pains in your chest, as this can be a symptom of numerous conditions rather than acid reflux alone.

Many people with acid reflux find that they can manage the condition through a few tweaks and additions to their usual diet. You may find it helpful to keep a food diary in order to identify foods that seem more likely to trigger your acid reflux; you can then avoid these foods in the future. In addition, a study in 2012 found that alkaline water may have a role to play in suppressing an enzyme that often responsible for acid results, making this another reason why alkaline water is so healthy for you and well worth trying. Lastly, some people find that licorice supplements can help manage acid reflux – though it’s always best to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter supplements. 

The above measures can also be combined with medication, which can be bought over-the-counter or – for those with particularly extreme cases – be prescribed by a doctor. 

In conclusion

Acid reflux is a difficult condition, but with the advice of a doctor and a few lifestyle tweaks, it can usually be successfully managed.

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