What is acid reflux?
If stomach acid passes up out of your stomach and into your oesophagus (food pipe), it is known as "acid reflux."
The reasons why it can happen include:
- You have a weakened lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) that is unable to keep stomach acid in place. The LES is the ring of muscle at the join between your oesophagus and stomach. It's responsible for allowing food to pass down into your stomach, and then closing to keep it there.
- There may be too much stomach acid, perhaps due to the type and / or amount of food you've eaten
- Your stomach is very full, perhaps as a result of your eating habits
- The pressure of a baby on the stomach can cause acid reflux, so pregnancy is commonly associated with the condition too
Of course, a combination of the above is also possible.
The most common acid reflux symptoms
The consequences of acid entering your oesophagus may be that you suffer symptoms such as the commonly recognised burning pain in your chest area (often behind your breast bone or sternum), known as heartburn. This happens because the refluxed stomach acid can burn the sensitive lining of your oesophagus. The amount of acid and length of time that it is in contact with your oesophageal lining will determine whether you will feel the symptoms, how intense the pain can be and how long it may last.
Surprising acid reflux symptoms
In conjunction with acid reflux, you may have heard of, or read about, the term GORD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease). This is a general term, and it can include various symptoms associated with the upper part of the digestive tract, such as the mouth, oesophagus and stomach.
So, in addition to heartburn you may experience some of the other symptoms of acid reflux disease:
- A tight feeling in your chest
- An unpleasant acidic taste in your mouth, and possibly feeling sick in conjunction with this
- Regurgitation - a sour or bitter taste in the back of your throat or in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, which may create the sensation of food being stuck in your throat1
- Pain when you swallow
Further symptoms associated with acid reflux disease may also include:1
- Bloating (the feeling of fullness)
- Burping (belching)
- Persistent hiccups
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Wheezing, a dry cough, and feeling hoarse or experiencing a chronic sore throat
There are a number of possible symptoms - it may not only be the pain of heartburn that sufferers feel.
How to avoid acid reflux
Acid reflux may be avoided by looking at:
- When you get heartburn
- Which foods and drinks you have had before getting it
- What you have done or are doing when you get it
You may get heartburn at night, which could be the consequence of eating too late, or eating spicy, fatty foods. Perhaps you simply ate too much. Spicy and fatty foods are particularly well known triggers of acid reflux, so try to cut down on them or maybe cut them out of your diet to see if that works for you. Try to eat at least a couple of hours before going to bed. If you lay down with a stomach full of undigested food, the chances of acid coming up into your oesophagus can be increased due to the position you're in.
Also, try not to drink too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks as these are known triggers for acid reflux as well. Try to eat small meals more often, rather than big meals. The volume of food in your stomach can help acid to reflux up more easily.
Too much exercise, or the wrong sort of exercise shortly after a meal, may be factors causing acid reflux. If you exercise, wait for some time after your meal - let your food digest first. Bending and jolting exercises may contribute to your chances of getting acid reflux, so look at the type of exercise you are doing too.
How to treat acid reflux
If you believe you may be experiencing acid reflux - perhaps by now you've recognised symptoms that you hadn't previously associated it with - why not consider Gaviscon Double Action to help you? Its double effect can help relieve the associated heartburn or indigestion.
Gaviscon Double Action gets to work quickly. It neutralises acid, and also forms a raft, or layer, on the top of your stomach contents. This helps to physically keep stomach acid in your stomach, where it belongs. Gaviscon Double Action also lasts up to twice as long as other acid reflux treatments known as antacids.
So, as you can see, there may be more symptoms associated with acid reflux than you previously thought. The long term effects of acid on the sensitive lining of your oesophagus may have further consequences if unchecked or untreated. Therefore if you believe you are suffering from some or all of these symptoms, but are unsure whether they're acid reflux or not, always consider getting medical advice.
All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon Double Action for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.
Article published 1 January 2021