Treatment of Acid Reflux in AdultsHere are some self-help tips for the treatment of acid reflux in adults

Acid Reflux is something most adults will experience across their lives. In many cases, it’s a temporary condition that you can manage yourself with a combination of over-the-counter medication and lifestyle changes. Understanding the condition is the first step in managing it correctly.

 

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid Reflux occurs when stomach acid or bile is expelled into the esophagus. There is a valve at the entrance to your stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES,) which closes after food has passed through it.

When the LES doesn’t close all the way or opens too frequently, stomach acid moves up into your esophagus. It is this acid that causes the sensation of burning (heartburn) in the chest. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

 

Symptoms of Gastric Reflux

The most common symptoms are:

  • Heartburn – a burning sensation or pain in your chest, or up into your throat. It often worsens when you lie down or bend over as acid that is supposed to stay in your stomach escapes into your esophagus, Pain often occurs after a big meal when the stomach is overloaded and its contents are forced to go up.

The chest pain can be severe and many people mistake heartburn for a heart attack. Never ignore chest pain, especially if it gets worse when you exert yourself. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re not having a heart attack.

  • Sour or bitter-tasting acid escapes from your stomach and make its way up into the back of your throat.

Other symptoms of acid reflux disease include:

  • When stomach acid is escaping into your esophagus, it can irritate your vocal cords. If your voice sounds more husky than usual after you’ve eaten, you may have gastric reflux.
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing or a feeling that something is stuck in your throat. The damage done by chronic acid reflux causes scarring and narrowing of the esophagus which restricts swallowing. If left untreated, it can cause a deadly change in the shape the cells which leads to a type of cancer, Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic sore throat. If your throat is sore only after meals and you don’t have any other cold/flu symptoms, you should consider the possibility that you have acid reflux.
  • Chronic dry cough, and wheezing, due to stomach acid getting into your lungs.
  • Excess saliva.

 

Treatments

Over-the-counter medication

A number of different medications can be used to treat symptoms of gastric reflux.

The main types are:

Antacids which neutralise the effects of stomach acid and provide quick relief. But they may cause diarrhea or constipation, especially if you overuse them.  Antacids alone won’t heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid. They include:

  • Maalox
  • Mylanta
  • Gelusil
  • Gaviscon
  • Rolaids
  • Tums 

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 receptor antagonists which reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach for up to 12 hours. They can also help heal the esophagus, although not as well as other medicines.

H2 receptor antagonists include –

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet HB)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid AC)
  • Nizatidine (Axid AR)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)

PPIs include

  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid OTC)

 

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

You may be able to control gastric reflux by taking the following steps:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid greasy or spicy foods coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, and alcohol
  • Don’t eat at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise by 4 inches to 6 inches. Just using extra pillows won’t help. Another solution is to use a wedge pillow.
  • Don’t sit in a reclining or slouched position.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
  • Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts around your abdomen. It can squeeze your stomach area and push acid up into your esophagus.
  • Stop smoking as smoke irritates the digestive tract.
  • Learning relaxation techniques. Stress can make heartburn worse.

If your symptoms don’t get better after two to three weeks despite trying self-help treatment for gastric reflux, then contact your doctor. Always consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication.

 

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