As common as it is, Acid Reflux can cause quite a large amount of discomfort to a person. This digestive disease is a common condition that creates a burning pain in the lower chest area when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe. Popularly known as heartburn, it is usually targeting a spot at the sternum that can continue to pain at the chest area, and in some cases, moves up to the throat and back.
The stomach contains a hydrochloric acid that helps in breaking down food and normal digestive function. It also protects against pathogens like bacteria. A muscle ring called the gastroesophageal sphincter acts as a gate that allows the entry of food into the stomach but limits its exit back into the oesophagus. Sometimes, this gate malfunctions due to various reasons which cause the stomach contents to regurgitate upwards, causing acid reflux.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
Since it is easy to identify acid reflux symptoms, let us take a look at ten undeniable signs that should not be ignored;
- Chest Pain
As serious as it seems, chest pain can sometimes be a minor case of acid reflux. However, when continuous and in bouts, it is best to have it checked on a top priority basis. If the pain spreads to the arm, jaw or shoulders, chances are, that it is a heart attack. Any chest pain should not be taken lightly.
- Chronic Cough
Acid can sometimes also edge its way up to the vocal cords which causes coughing and hoarseness of the voice. It is an atypical manifestation of acid reflux disease as the acid has spread to other parts of the body beyond the oesophagus. Ignoring this can cause asthma and pneumonia.
- Persistent Wheezing
Wheezing that mimics asthma is likely a result of acid reflux. Sometimes, wheezing and coughing not being a result of acidity, can cause it due to pressure being put on the stomach during the act.
- Dental Problems
Despite being dentally hygienic, if visits to the dentist have increased, it might be time for an acid reflux concern. Discolouration, tooth enamel erosion and cavities must not be ignored and treated accordingly.
- Prolonged symptoms
When acid reflux symptoms continue for prolonged periods with a frequency of more than 2-3 times a week, it can culminate into a chronic condition called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). If this is untreated, it can cause more serious complications like anaemia, ulcers and bleeding.
When pain and discomforts are felt while swallowing food, it is called dysphagia. It is generated by acid reflux-induced damage to the oesophagal tissues and can cause the lower oesophagus to become narrow, to spasm and scar.
- Ringing of the Ears
If your ears are repeatedly ringing, especially after a meal, it might be caused by reflux entering the interior of the ears and sinuses. A medical consult is advised.
One of the more unpleasant acid reflux symptoms, this happens when one can practically taste their lunch, along with a dirty smell and some vomit when burping. Not giving enough time to digest a meal can trigger it further. Antacids usually help in this case.
- Pain During Rest
Chronic heartburn, especially after meals can cause a lot of discomfort. Avoiding heavy meals before bed can be one way to cure it. Another way is to raise the head of your bed, so it doesn’t put you in a flat horizontal position, warding off such undesired effects.
- Bitter Taste
Quite often occurring when a person is in the sleeping position, a bitter taste is a cause of acid making its way to the throat from the stomach. Extremely unpleasant, in some cases, people have woken up coughing heavily and experiencing breathing problems.
Various risk factors can be quite easily kept in control with the help of some lifestyle changes. Some factors are;
- Smoking – Continuing to inhale active or passive smoke hampers the normal functioning of routine body tasks.
- High intake of sodium – People who consume high levels of sodium often complain of acid indigestion.
- Obesity – It is a known fact that shedding those extra pounds results in avoiding numerous health issues. Acidity is also one of them.
- Overeating – Eating large meals put pressure on the digestive tract and sometimes can retaliate in the form of flatulence and bitter burps.
- Stagnant lifestyle – A lazy lifestyle is also a recurring reason for digestive disorders. Lying down immediately after a meal often creates heartburn.
Despite millions of people being affected by acid reflux every day, it is important to be able to identify when it can transition to GERD. It is often ignored and goes untreated due to which it can come back with a vengeance. Regular exercise, weight loss, eating healthy and sleeping well attribute to natural remedies, whereas persistent symptoms need medical consultations.