What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a common digestive problem. Acid reflux, which is also known as heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows back from the stomach and into the esophagus. Due to the high acidic content, this can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as burning sensations in the chest. More than 15 million people in the United States experience heartburn daily.
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
The most common symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Heartburn: burning or discomfort that moves from the stomach into the abdomen, chest or throat
- Regurgitation: burning acid backs up into the throat or mouth
Other symptoms/complications of acid reflux disease are:
- Black or bloody stools
- Vomiting blood
- Narrowing esophagus, so it feels like food sticks in the throat
- Persistent hiccups
- Weight loss for unknown reasons
- Dry coughing, wheezing, persistent sore throat, or hoarseness
What Are the Causes of Acid Reflux?
When there isn’t enough stomach acid to sufficiently digest food, the undigested food decays in the gut. The decomposition process produces bacteria-related gas. This gas exerts upward pressure on the stomach, which causes the acidic stomach contents to back up into the throat. If acid reflux is left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other potentially serious medical issues can develop.
Another common cause of acid reflux disease is a hiatal hernia. This type of hernia is usually found in the area of the diaphragm, a muscle that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps keep stomach acid contained, but a hiatal hernia can cause acid to move up the esophagus and cause acid reflux disease.
Is Acid Reflux Genetic?
It has been suggested that while acid reflux or GERD can be inherited, there are other ways to get GERD besides your genes. Lifestyle factors play an equal part in the development of acid reflux disease.
Ways to Control Your Acid Reflux and Minimize Symptoms
It’s important to see a GI (gastrointestinal) doctor to determine the root cause of your acid reflux issues. A GI doctor has the specialized training and experience in managing diseases of the gastrointestinal or digestive tract.
Whether or not your acid reflux is genetic, there are ways you can help minimize symptoms:
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
- Exercise more
- Cut down on your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and table salt.
- Avoid eating large meals.
- Eat more dietary fiber.
- Don’t lay down within 2 to 3 hours of eating.
- Eat chocolate.
- Drink fizzy beverages and acidic juices.
- Take antacids. They provide quick, short-term relief by reducing stomach acid, but their ingredients can inhibit your absorption of nutrients, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
In many cases, if acid reflux symptoms show no improvement due to lifestyle changes and OTC acid reflux medications, you may need to see a doctor. Your doctor can conduct a series of tests to diagnose and treat your acid reflux. Some of these tests may include:
- Barium x-rays
- Esophageal tests
- Ph balance acidity testing
If you are experiencing acid reflux symptoms, schedule an appointment with the best gastroenterologists in the Bronx by using the form on this page or calling us at 718-325-9532. Our GI doctors are available 6 days a week and accept most insurances.