Millions of people have acid reflux (commonly known as heartburn or GERD) symptoms. According to statistics, almost 20% of the United States’ population suffer from heartburn at least once a week.
Do you have acid reflux symptoms? Let’s talk about these symptoms.
Acid reflux symptoms
Many people refer to acid reflux as heartburn.
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the stomach and behind the chest area that improves with taking anti-acid medication.
Anti-acid medications stop and suppress acid production.
Have you had any heartburn in the past? Do you remember experiencing a sour or bitter taste in your throat or mouth?
Things that you should avoid
2) Large meals
3) Eating too late at night
8 foods and beverages you should avoid or at least limit
1) Citrus fruits
4) Carbonated drinks
5) Fatty foods
One more interesting thing
Did you know that exercising and bending forward could worsen the heartburn symptoms?
Yes, it can happen because exercise and bending forward increase the pressure inside the abdomen and push up stomach acid.
Medications that could worsen your heartburn
1) Aspirin and all other NSAIDS (e.g. Advil, Exedrine, Aleve)
2) Anticholinergic drugs, these drugs inhibit the action of acetylcholine (a neuro-transmitter). The most commonly known and prescribed anticholingeric drugs are as follows,
- Meclizine (Antivert)
- Oxybutinin (Ditropan)
Following are few medications with mild anticholinergic effects,
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Furosemide (Lasix)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
3) Nitrates (mostly used in patient complaining of chest pain)
4) Calcium channel blockers (e.g. verapamil), this group of medication treats high blood pressure and/or fast or irregular heart rate.
Remedies for acid reflux symptoms
There are different approaches to acid reflux treatment, but in my opinion the first and most important primary approach to this problem is to identify the reasons for acid reflux.
The reasons for acid reflux are mostly preventable. It means that if you change a few things your heartburn symptoms could improve.
In most cases how and what we eat could cause or worsen acid reflux, other factors are smoking, alcohol and most importantly stress.
Eating smaller amount of foods, chewing well and avoiding food intake at least four hours before bedtime could be of major help in managing acid reflux symptom management.
Elevating the back of the bed when lying down can reduce the intensity of the symptoms.
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Medications that are used to treat acid reflux symptoms
There are three common anti-acid medications,
1) Anti-histamines or histamine 2 blockers (e.g. ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine)
2) PPIs or proton pump inhibitors (e.g. omeprazole/Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, Prevacid, …)
3) Aluminum hydroxide (e.g. Maalox)
Did you know that to get the most benefit from PPIs such as Omeprazole, Nexium, Prevacid, they should be taken 30 to 45 minutes before meal?
How do the histamine 2 blockers work?
Histamine stimulates acid production in the stomach and consequently inhibiting the histamine production by histamine 2 blockers reduces the acid production.
Lower acid production will result in improvement of heartburn.
How do the PPIs work?
PPIs reduce acid production in the stomach by inhibiting the proton pump function in the stomach.
PPIs are stronger, more effective and logically more expensive than histamine 2 blockers.
How does aluminum hydroxide work?
This medication reduces the exposure of the stomach tissue to already existing acid and thus protects the stomach lining from getting damaged. It doesn’t reduce or limit the acid production.
How to get rid of acid reflux?
Now that you know little more about heartburn and acid reflux disease, you should work on followings to improve your symptoms and hopefully prevent future heartburn attacks,
1) Look for reasons that make heartburn occur.
2) Find out which behavior or foods make your symptoms worse.
3) Familiarize yourself with the acid reducing medication you are planning to take.
4) Make sure that you contact your doctor if the symptoms don’t improve even after taking the acid reducing medication.
5) Last but not least don’t disregard the effect of stress on your stomach health.