Acid Reflux

Acid reflux disease or ARD occurs when the hydrochloric acid in the stomach backs up through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and into the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach for further breakdown into nutritional components for the body. When this acid enters the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation due to irritation of the mucosal lining. This can lead to more serious problems such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and in some cases esophageal cancer.

The types of food you eat are the major cause of ARD. Acidic foods like fruits and tomatoes increase the acid production of the stomach. Avoiding these “triggers” will decrease the chances of ARD occurring. Other foods to watch out for include: peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, and spicy fare.

Unhealthy habits that contribute to ARD include: Smoking, overeating, and weight gain.

Physiological issues could cause this condition, too. Hiatal hernias are a risk factor for developing this disease. A portion of the stomach has herniated up through the diaphragm into the thoracic cavity. People have lived with hiatal hernias and not experienced this condition. But, if ARD is a problem and there is a previous diagnosis of hiatal hernia, it could be the culprit.

Lying flat in bed could bring on an episode of ARD. If lower back pain is the reason why you are lying flat at night, try sleeping in a modified beach chair position with pillows behind your head and lower back. This position elevates the head enough for gravity to keep the acid in its place.

Wearing tight clothing could be causing the heartburn you feel. Anything tight around the middle of your body puts pressure on the stomach. Eating a big meal without loosening the belt is almost sure to result in heartburn.

Eating too much food at one sitting increases the amount of acid in the stomach. You may feel like it’s about to bubble up and over. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Weight loss experts advocate this way of eating to maintain a feeling of fullness and avoid overeating. Less acid is produced on the whole because less food is present in the stomach. Late in pregnancy as the baby moves around more, soon-to-be mothers experience heartburn because the child displaces their organs as he/she grows. Smaller meals help in this instance, too.

Acid reflux can occur at any time to anyone. Decreasing your risk factors whenever possible will reduce the chances of an incident occurring.