Around 25% of all UK adults experienced heartburn – one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. The following Pharmica article investigates what acid reflux is and how to treat it as well as the heartburn associated with it.
It is a common misconception that acid reflux and heartburn are the same conditions. However, in reality, they differ – acid reflux is when stomach acid reaches the oesophagus (muscle tube that connects your mouth and your stomach) while heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and involves the burning feeling and sensation in your chest. The following article will cover both conditions as well as explaining the key causes and treatments for both.
What is Acid Reflux?:
Individuals experience acid reflux in their oesophageal sphincter (also know as LOS) which joins your stomach with your oesophagus. Sometimes if this muscle is not strong or tighten properly, the stomach hydrochloric acid could potentially rise within your oesophagus, causing irritation to its lining. However, even though the lining in your stomach is adapted and able to protect itself from the acid, your oesophagus does not possess the same protection and therefore get irritated easier. As a result, the individual experiencing this condition can feel an acidic feeling or bitter taste in their mouth as well as sometimes experiencing heartburn
What is Acid Heartburn?:
Consequently, heartburn is an actual common symptom that is caused by acid reflux. Even though it is called heartburn, it does not affect your heart. Due to the acid reflux making your stomach acid reach your oesophagus, you may feel a burning or irritating sensation in your chest. This feeling could vary, depending on the individual experiencing, where the pain could feel either sharp or tightening, sometimes even feeling like it is moving up to your throat and neck.
It is important to know that if you are experiencing acid reflux frequently, you may have a chronic acid reflux condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GEDR). To weaken the GEDR symptoms, adjustments to your lifestyle and diet could help, in addition to a variety of acid reflux treatments being available on the market.
What Causes Acid Reflux?:
- Consuming beverages like alcohol, tea, coffee, or carbonated drinks
- Eating acidic, fatty or spicy foods such as cheese, citrus fruit and chocolate
- Having a high intake of table salt
- Having a low fibre diet
- Being obese or overweight
- Eating just before going to bed
- Lack of exercising
- Lying down or bending over after eating
- Having large meal portions
How Can Acid Reflux be Prevented?:
Both GERD and Acid Reflux can be effectively treated with clinically proven prevention treatments such as Omeprazole, Pantoprazole or Lansoprazole which are prescription-based and provide a long-run solution compared to over the counter alternatives. These treatments are also called PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) that prevent the final stage of the acid reflux process. They work thanks to the inhibiting gastric proton pump, which produces the stomach acid, therefore preventing the acid reflux symptoms from occurring for a longer period of time if taken regularly.
However, in addition to effective treatments mention before, lifestyle and diet changes can be adjusted in order to tackle the key causes of acid reflux. Combining both lifestyle adjustments and treatments can have a significant effect in treating the acid reflux condition.
How Can Heartburn be Treated?:
Considering heartburn is one of the most commonly occurring symptoms of acid reflux, it is useful to know how to treat it effectively. Common antacid medications like Gaviscon products are effective and efficient when it comes to creating a rapid relief of heartburn. The way they work is by using its elements to neutralise the stomach acid which prevents the discomfort and pain caused by acid reflux.
What Else Can Help Reduce Heartburn?
In addition to the treatments mentioned above, adjusting your lifestyle and diet could have a significant positive impact on reducing heartburn like:
- Reduce smoking and consumption of alcohol. Both have been connected to contributing to the reduced function of the lower oesophageal sphincter
- Avoiding food that could trigger acid reflux
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing to reduce the pressure applied to the abdomen and lower the oesophageal sphincter.
- Avoid lying down after eating a meal as this can trigger the onset of acid reflux.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
In conclusion, combining the adjustments above with clinically proven treatments could be an effective way to reduce acid reflux and heartburn.