Acid Reflux Disease commonly called ‘heart burn’, is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates (backs up, or refluxes) into the esophagus. It’s annoying and painful.
But you want to know the truth, the reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents into the esophagus occurs in most normal individuals. However, when heartburn becomes acid reflux disease or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as GERD, it is a real problem. That is because with GERD, the acid is stronger and stays in the esophagus longer causing more discomfort.
Symptoms are often milder during the daytime when you are upright, sitting straight, or standing. Your body handles this reflux with gravity causing the fluid to flow back down into your stomach. You also swallow more during the daytime therefore draining the acid back to where it belongs. Your salivary glands produce saliva that contains bicarbonate which acts to neutralize the acid your stomach has kicked up.
At night though, you may have a greater problem when acid reflux disease occurs that is because while sleeping, gravity does not work as well lying down, your constant swallowing stops, and the production of saliva is reduced.
Certain conditions make a person more prone to acid reflux disease or GERD; for example pregnancy. The elevated hormone levels of pregnancy can cause reflux by lowering the pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter. The growing baby also puts more pressure on the abdomen. Both of these effects of pregnancy tend to increase the risk of GERD.
Minor condition symptoms:
Complicated condition symptoms:
- Damaged esophagus lining
- Inflamed esophagus
- Ulcer on the wall of the esophagus (this can lead to bleeding)
If your heartburn is severe or acute, happening very frequently, you need to see a doctor.
What can you do for yourself to lessen the symptoms?
- Try sleeping on a pillow at night that raises your chest up slightly so that gravity can bring the acid back down more easily.
- Since this condition usually occurs on a full stomach, eat earlier and eat less to keep the stomach from being too full.
- Ease off on the chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.
- Reduce fatty foods and of course, cut down or quit smoking.
- Avoid spicy or acid-containing foods, like citrus juices, carbonated beverages, and tomato juice.