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What Is Acid Reflux (Or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) ?

Acid reflux is made up of chronic symptoms and / or mucosal damage that are caused by the abnormal reflux of stomach contents, namely the powerful stomach acid. When the gastric contents are expelled into the esophagus, this creates discomfort, pain and possibly lasting tissue damage. Reflux is referred to by many terms - Acid Reflux, Reflux Esophagitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It is a very common condition, which most people experience at some time, however, in some, it can occur frequently and cause considerable discomfort including the common symptom of heartburn. (Occasional heartburn does not necessarily indicate Acid Feflux).

The discomfort is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus, this fluid may even be tasted in the mouth, and the esophagus can become inflamed and painful. Not all sufferers will experience heartburn, other symptoms can include hoarseness in the morning, trouble swallowing,  tight throat, dry cough and bad breath.

It is common for drugs such as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers to be prescribed to suppress the acid, but simply suppressing symptoms does not solve the problem, and indeed can cause further problems. Stomach acid plays a very important role in helping to digest food, inhibiting the body's ability to do this, will in itself lead to further health problems.

Sometimes acid reflux is a physical problem, where the lower esophageal sphincter does not effectively contain the contents of the stomach, and some cases where a hiatal hernia is a factor.

The most common symptom and complaint of those suffering from acid reflux is heartburn, which feels like a burning, stinging or even ripping type of pain around the breastbone area. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing and changes in mucosal linings of the throat. In extreme cases sufferers may develop esophageal ulcers or scarring.

In order to diagnose the condition, patients may be given a barium mixture to drink. This will help show the structure of the esophagus, sphincters and stomach in order to determine a good course of treatment.

Sometimes endoscopy is used to better examine the esophagus, stomach and relating portions of the body. The patient will usually be sedated in order to ease relaxation.

No matter which course of treatment you and your doctor decide to pursue, there are many types of food that tend to be more likely to trigger acid reflux symptoms. Avoiding or decreasing your intake of these foods may help to alleviate the situation.

Acidic, fatty and spicy foods tend to promote gastroesophageal reflux. Coffee, alcohol, vitamin C and calcium supplements are gastric acid stimulants. If you ingest these things, it is best to do so during the day or periods of increased activity. Just before bedtime would be the worst time.

Chocolate and peppermint, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are known acid reflux stimulants. Milk and dairy items should be avoided at bedtime.

Eating smaller meals, elevating the head of your bed and drinking more water have all been shown to have good effects for coping with and managing acid reflux and related conditions.

Though there are a number of heartburn medications on the market, I strongly advise you to find simple solutions, such as avoiding certain foods, before you start medicating the problem. When we treat the symptoms of a disease and do nothing for the underlying causes, it is only a matter of time before the condition has additional symptoms.

So let us work with our bodies and do our best to ingest foods that help us and avoid ones that exacerbate our various conditions or concern areas. Start eating a little healthier, and chances are you will notice a difference for the better, no matter how mild or severe your version of acid reflux is.