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Acid Reflux Disease - What Is It?
Acid reflux or Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a bothersome and usually painful problem. Acid reflux is caused by acid and other materials that are in the stomach, which get backed up in the esophagus, the tube that goes from the stomach to the throat. The esophagus is made up of many muscles.
Damage to the esophagus from acid reflux is very common. This damage is due to the items from the stomach residing in the lower esophagus for a long amount of time. You may experience heartburn and nausea when this occurs. If the materials rise up higher into the esophagus, you could get them into your mouth. Your throat will burn from the acid and you may find small food pieces in your mouth that have not been digested.
Causes of Acid Reflux
The esophagus has a tight piece of muscle like a rim, called the esophageal sphincter. When you eat food, the esophageal sphincter should be strong enough to push the food down into the stomach. When the esophageal sphincter becomes too relaxed and it is not as strong as it should be, the food in the stomach comes back up through the esophagus, causing acid reflux. Hiatal hernias and a slow or weak esophagus can also trigger acid reflux. A weak or slow esophagus is just not able to get the food to the stomach on a schedule that is right for proper digestion.
Acid Reflux Treatment
If you have acid reflux, the first thing you need to change is your lifestyle. You need to learn how to control your acid reflux by eating smaller meals as well as losing any excess weight you have. If you smoke or drink alcohol, you will have to give those up too. You can prevent acid reflux by becoming more active and moving around for a few hours after meals. You may even try sleeping with an extra pillow to elevate your head above your stomach.
You may need to start using over the counter medication that is designed for the symptoms of acid reflux. These medications neutralize the acid amounts in your stomach, thus there is less acid to rise up. You can try such medications as Pepcid, Zantac, Mylanta and Tagamet. Pepcid and Zantac are known as histamine receptor antagonists.
If your symptoms of acid reflux get worse, you may need proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium and Prevacid prescribed by your doctor. These medications will stop the acid release into the stomach and the intestines. Another medication, Reglan, is a promotility agent and its function is to get the esophagus to function the way it should. Reglan forces the esophagus to speed up and empty faster so digestion can go at a healthy pace.
If you think you have acid reflux problems, contact your doctor about getting treatment. Your doctor can prescribe the proper treatment for your particular situation.
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