What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux, is a digestive disease where stomach contents, especially acid, backflow into the food pipe. It is most common for ages 50 and older but can happen to many people of younger age as well. It is important to know the causes and symptoms of acid reflux to determine accurate treatment and prevention methods.

A few of the common causes of acid reflux include:

  • Lower esophageal sphincter (valve) abnormalities
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Slow or prolonged emptying of the stomach

A few common symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Heartburn
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation of food

If left untreated, acid reflux can cause more serious complications. Certain cases of untreated acid reflux can result in:

  • Esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus)
  • Esophageal ulcers
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Increased risk of esophagus cancer
  • Tooth decay

There are multiple over-the-counter medications such as antacids that aid in relieving acid reflux pain as well as controlling stomach acid. Serious or prolonged cases of acid reflux may require more intensive treatment such as other prescribed medications or surgery.  If your pain continues after a few weeks, it is recommended to see a doctor.

There are various ways that you can prevent acid reflux from happening. A few common prevention methods include don’t eat a large meal before going to bed, eating smaller meal portions, avoiding foods that are spicy or high in fat, avoiding chocolate, peppermint and tomato-based foods, and maintaining a healthy diet. Smoking and obesity also increase the risk for acid reflux, so it’s important to practice a lifestyle that keeps your body healthy.

Are you suffering from acid reflux? UofL Health – Reflux, Swallowing & Hernia Center is ready to help. Call 502-588-4571 to make an appointment today.