Acid reflux is a common condition characterized by burning pain that is felt internally around the lower chest area. It is triggered by stomach acid that flowed back up to the esophagus. An individual is diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if acid reflux occurs more than twice in a week.
What are the causes?
Most of us experience acid reflux occasionally, usually linked with certain foods and beverages. If it occurs recurrently, it is considered as GERD. Pregnancy can also trigger acid reflux from the excess pressure on the internal organs.
Other possible risk factors that can be controlled include:
- Low dietary intake of fiber
- High intake of table salt
- Low level of physical activity
- Alcohol or caffeine intake
- Medications including for asthma, antihistamines, calcium-channel blockers, sedatives, pain medications and antidepressants
What are the indications?
Acid reflux whether a harmless episode or a persistent issue of GERD, typically causes heartburn. It is described as discomfort like burning originating in the esophagus and felt behind the breastbone region. It usually worsens if the individual lies down or bends over. It can last for several hours and likely to worsen after eating.
The discomfort of heartburn can radiate towards the neck and throat. The stomach fluid can reach the rear part of the throat in some cases to produce a sour or bitter taste.
The initial line of treatments for acid reflux include the following:
- Proton-pump inhibitors – omeprazole and esomeprazole
- Alginate drugs
- H2 blockers
- OTC treatments such as antacids
The main treatment options for those who suffer from repeated episodes of acid reflux in GERD include proton-pump inhibitors or H2 blockers. Both medications work by reducing the acid production, thus reducing the severity of damage from the acid reflux.
Over-the-counter remedies for acid reflux
Individuals who suffer from heartburn or indigestion infrequently that are linked to occasional food and beverage triggers, over-the-counter remedies can minimize the acidity of the stomach contents.
Antacids are available in liquid and tablet formulations. These might not work for everyone and the need for regular use must be discussed with a doctor.