WHAT IS ACID REFLUX?
Acid reflux, or heartburn, happens to just about everybody from time to time. It occurs when stomach acid moves back up into your esophagus through your lower esophageal sphincter.
If acid reflux feels uncomfortable and occurs regularly, you don’t have to suffer through it.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ACID REFLUX?
Common symptoms associated with acid reflux include:
- A burning sensation in your chest or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Wheezing or coughing
- A sour taste in your mouth
- Problems sleeping
- A hoarse voice
- The feeling of a lump in your throat
You might experience acid reflux after eating, when you lie down at night, during exercise, when you bend over or while wearing tight-fitted clothing. Being overweight and smoking increases your risk of acid reflux.
Eating a big meal or drinking coffee or alcohol might trigger symptoms or make them worse. Untreated acid reflux can cause esophagus damage or increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
HOW IS ACID REFLUX DIAGNOSED?
To help diagnose acid reflux, your gastroenterologist reviews your symptoms and medical history. They complete an exam and may use imaging tests or endoscopy to view the inside of your digestive tract and rule out serious GI complications.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR ACID REFLUX?
Your acid reflux treatment plan is based on your health and the severity of your condition.
Losing weight if you’re overweight can reduce acid reflux. Your doctor helps you develop a healthy eating and exercise plan to get excess weight off.
Eating certain foods can make acid reflux worse. Examples include spicy foods, greasy or fatty foods, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, coffee and tea. Making dietary changes can offer you symptom relief.
Additional lifestyle changes that can reduce acid reflux include not smoking, eating smaller meals, not eating right before bed, elevating the head of your bed and not wearing tight clothing.
Taking over-the-counter or prescription medications can help reduce acid reflux symptoms. Your gastroenterologist will let you know which medicine is right for you.
If you have severe acid reflux that occurs regularly, your provider might recommend surgery to tighten your lower esophageal sphincter and give you long-lasting symptom relief.