What is Acid Reflux?
When stomach acid and digestive juices retreat back up the esophagus from the stomach it causes a painful condition with symptoms of heart burn called acid reflux. This condition affects millions of people over the world and can occasionally develop into a more chronic problem called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
What are common acid reflux symptoms?
Heart Burn – The most common sensation is the burning in the chest and throat that is caused by the acid reacting with the esophagus.
Acid reflux can also cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Asthma attacks
Getting Rid of Acid Reflux
- Dietary Changes – Heart burn is often causes by poor dietary habits and going to bed too soon after eating. There are certain foods which trigger symptoms of heart burn and should be avoided if you are suffering with this condition. Citrus fruits, spicy foods and heavy dairy products all create highly acidic gastric juices and contribute to acid reflux.
- Antacids – These are very good at offering short term results for the problem of acid reflux, though are not suitable for treating chronic cases and GERD. These over the counter treatments will help to neutralise the stomach acid and stop the pain that results from acid reflux. Some of the more common names of antacids are:
- Tums and Rolaids
- Maalox and Mylanta
- Alka Seltzer
Treating Chronic Acid Reflux, GERD
It is almost impossible to completely cure cases of GERD, but there are a few different ways in which you can help to manage the symptoms and ease the discomfort you may feel. You will need to consult a doctor and discuss the following options to help with this problem.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors – Digestive acids are created in the stomach by cells called gastric parietal cells. The proton pump is the part of the cell which excretes the acid into the system. Proton pump inhibitors work to disable these pumps and reduce the digestive acids that are released into the stomach. This treatment is available through prescription only and you will find that results can be seen after 2 to 3 days of taking the medication. The most commonly found names of proton pump inhibitors are
- Omeprazole (Losec)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Lansoprazole (Zoton and Prevacid)
- Pantoprazole (Protium)
- Rabeprazole sodium (Pariet)
- H2 antagonists–This treatment works in a different way to antacids, they work by blocking the regular function of histamine in the stomach which reduces the overall production of acid in the stomach. This treatment should be taken before meals and can work to prevent symptoms of heart burn for between 9 and 12 hours at a time. This gives the esophagus time to recover after being affected by acid reflux. This medication has slowly been declining over the years and most people are tending to favour the proton pump inhibitors instead. The most common H2 antagonists on the market are:
- Cimetidine (Tagamet, Dyspamet)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
- Famotidine (Pepcid)
- Nizatidine (Axid)
- Ranitidine bismuth citrate (Pylorid)