If you have a sore throat and sound hoarse, you may be coming down with a cold or the flu. If you’ve had these symptoms for a while, they could be caused by a valve—your lower esophageal sphincter. This is the muscle that closes the passage between the esophagus and stomach, and if it doesn’t completely close, stomach acid and food flow back into the esophagus. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux; acid reflux refers to the backward flow of acid.
Acid reflux can cause sore throats, hoarseness, and even a bad taste in your mouth. Acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or GERD, when it causes chronic symptoms. Heartburn, or pain in the upper abdomen and chest, is the most common symptom of GERD.
According to Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach: Taking Control of Your Digestive Health, three conditions contribute to acid reflux: poor esophageal clearance, too much acid in the stomach, and delayed stomach emptying.
What Exactly is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close properly after swallowing food or liquid. When the LES relaxes or weakens abnormally, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. The medical term for chronic acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
How to Treat Acid Reflux?
You can do several things to alleviate acid reflux symptoms, and following these guidelines may even help you get rid of your symptoms completely. Speak with your St. Thomas Medical Group gastrointestinal specialist in Nashville to learn more about the lifestyle changes that may be most appropriate for managing your acid reflux.
If you’ve been experiencing frequent bouts of heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms, you could try the following:
Eat Slowly and Sparingly
More reflux into the esophagus may occur when the stomach is full. If it fits your schedule, you might want to try “grazing”—eating small meals more frequently rather than three large meals per day.
Avoid Certain Foods
they once told people suffering from acid reflux to avoid all but the blandest foods. However, this is no longer the case. “We’ve come a long way since the days when you couldn’t eat anything,” Dr. Wolf says. However, some foods are more likely to cause reflux, such as mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol. If you eat any of these foods regularly, you should try eliminating them to see if it helps your reflux and then gradually reintroduce them.
Don’t Consume Carbonated Beverages
They force you to burp, which causes acid to enter your esophagus. Instead of sparkling water, drink flat water. Acid reflux can be triggered by fatty and fried foods, garlic, onion, mint, tomato sauce, alcohol, and caffeine.
Stay Awake After Eating.
Gravity alone helps keep acid in the stomach, where it belongs when you’re standing or even sitting. Finish your meal three hours before going to bed. This means no afternoon naps, late suppers, or midnight snacks.
Don’t Move too Quickly.
Avoid strenuous exercise for a few hours after eating. An after-dinner stroll is fine, but a more strenuous workout, particularly one that requires bending over, can cause acid to enter your esophagus.
Sleeping on an Angle.
Your head should ideally be 6 to 8 inches higher than your feet, and we can accomplish this by using “extra-tall” bed risers on the legs that support the head of your bed. If your sleeping partner is opposed to the change, consider using a foam wedge support for your upper body. Don’t try to make a wedge out of pillows; they will not provide the consistent support you require.
Lose Weight if Advised.
Weight gain spreads the muscular structure that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, reducing the pressure that keeps the sphincter closed. This causes acid reflux and heartburn.
Quit Smoking if you Smoke.
Nicotine can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
Examine your Medications.
Some medications, such as postmenopausal estrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory pain relievers, can relax the sphincter. In contrast, others, particularly bisphosphonates such as alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), or risedronate (Actonel), used to increase bone density, can irritate the esophagus.
Consume a Ripe Banana.
The high potassium content of a banana makes it a fairly alkaline food. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this may help counteract the stomach acid irritating your esophagus.
On the other hand, unripe bananas are less alkaline, contain more starch, and may cause acid reflux in some people. So make sure to select a ripe banana.
Melons, cauliflower, fennel, and nuts are other alkaline foods that may help with heartburn.
Chew Sugarless Gum.
Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva. According to one study, this can help reduce heartburn because saliva can promote swallowing and help keep acid down and neutralize stomach acid that has refluxed into your esophagus.
Resist the Urge to Eat too much or too Quickly.
When it comes to preventing heartburn, controlling portion sizes at meals can help. A large amount of food in your stomach may put more pressure on the valve that keeps stomach acid out of your esophagus, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux and heartburn. If you suffer from heartburn, try eating smaller meals more frequently. Eating quickly can also cause heartburn, so take your time, chew your food, and drink your beverages.
Avoid Eating Late at Night, Snacking Before Bed, and Eating Before Exercising.
Laying down with a full stomach can cause acid reflux and worsen heartburn symptoms. Avoid eating within 3 hours of going to bed to give your stomach enough time to empty. You should also rest for at least two hours before exercising.
Wear Comfortable Clothing.
Tight-fitting belts and clothing that squeeze your stomach may be contributing to your heartburn symptoms.
Change your Sleeping Position.
Sleeping with your head and chest higher than your feet can help prevent and relieve acid reflux and heartburn. We can accomplish this by placing a foam wedge under the mattress or raising bedposts with wood blocks. Be wary of piling pillows, as this is rarely effective and may aggravate your symptoms. Sleeping on your left side is also thought to aid digestion and may help limit stomach acid reflux.
Reduce your Stress.
Chronic stress physically impacts your body, including slowing digestion and increasing sensitivity to pain. The longer food remains in your stomach; the more likely stomach acid will reflux. Furthermore, increased sensitivity to pain can intensify the burning pain of heartburn. Taking steps to reduce stress may aid in the prevention or relief of acid reflux and heartburn.
What are Typical Acid Reflux Symptoms?
A variety of symptoms can occur when stomach contents repeatedly back up into your esophagus. Symptoms vary depending on which organs are affected by stomach acid, and not everyone who suffers from acid reflux exhibits the same symptoms.
The severity of the symptoms can range from mild to severe. Reflux symptoms are more prevalent:
- when lying down or bending over
- after a heavy meal
- after a fatty or spicy meal
- Acid reflux can happen at any time. However, the majority of people experience symptoms at night, and this is because lying down allows acid to move more easily into the chest.
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. The corrosive effects of stomach acid are avoided in your stomach. If your lower esophageal sphincter does not keep stomach acid from leaking into your esophagus, you will feel a painful burning sensation in your chest.
Heartburn can be uncomfortable or painful. However, the severity of the burning sensation does not always indicate long-term or permanent esophageal damage.
Some people have regurgitation. This is the sensation of liquid, food, or bile moving up rather than down your throat. People may even vomit in some cases. Adults, on the other hand, rarely vomit.
Infants and children with gastroesophageal reflux (GER) may experience regurgitation regularly. In infants under the age of 18 months, this is completely natural and safe. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, approximately half of all infants have reflux within the first three months of life.
Dyspepsia is characterized by a burning sensation and discomfort in the upper middle part of your stomach. Indigestion is what it’s called. Heartburn is a sign of dyspepsia, and intermittent pain is possible.
Some people suffering from dyspepsia may:
- feel bloated
- have heartburn
- feel uncomfortably full
- be nauseated
- have an upset stomach
- vomit or burp a lot
We must take these signs and symptoms seriously. They may indicate the presence of another disorder known as peptic ulcer disease. These ulcers cause chronic symptoms and can bleed on occasion. If left untreated, they can burrow through the stomach, causing a medical emergency known as perforation.
Every year, at least one in every twenty-five adults suffers from difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia. Swallowing is difficult or painful in this condition. A variety of factors can cause dysphagia. Aside from GERD, it can be caused by:
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
Acid reflux can cause throat irritation. Typical symptoms include:
- sore throat
- hoarse voice
- the sensation of a lump in your throat
Other Signs of Acid Reflux
Heartburn, the most common symptom of acid reflux, does not occur in some adults or children under the age of 12; instead, they have other symptoms.
In children and adults, dry cough is a common reflux symptom. Adults may also have the sensation of a lump in their throat, and they may feel the need to cough or clear their throat repeatedly.
In both children and adults, reflux frequently aggravates asthma symptoms. Stomach acid irritates the airways, exacerbating symptoms like wheezing.
What to do if you have Severe or Frequent Heartburn?
Over-the-counter medications such as antacids and histamine blockers can help relieve mild, occasional heartburn symptoms. Before taking an antacid or histamine blocker, always read the product label and never take a larger dose or more frequently than directed.
If you have frequent heartburn, consult your doctor before taking heartburn medications regularly because these drugs can interact with many other medications and affect underlying health conditions.
Consult your doctor if you have severe heartburn or if it persists or worsens after taking steps to relieve it. Heartburn can be a symptom of an underlying condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or a side effect of a medication you’re taking in some cases.
What Factors Contribute to Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is caused by an issue that arises during the digestive process. When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes, allowing food and liquid to pass from the esophagus to the stomach. The LES is a circular muscle band connecting your esophagus to your stomach. The LES tightens and closes the stomach opening after food and liquid enter. Stomach acid can back into your esophagus if these muscles relax irregularly or weaken over time. Acid reflux and heartburn result from this. It is considered erosive if an upper endoscopy reveals breaks in the esophageal lining. If the lining appears normal, it is considered non-erosive.
What are the Acid Reflux Risk Factors?
Though it can affect anyone, including infants and children, acid reflux is most common in pregnant women, obese people, and older adults.
If these steps aren’t effective or you have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor to rule out other causes. You may also need medication to control reflux even as you pursue lifestyle changes. If You are suffering from acid reflux, we hope this article has helped you through.