Many families purchase antacids when they’re grocery shopping because it’s one of the fastest treatment for heartburn. When the child or any other member of the family complains of burning sensation in the chest, often after a meal, the antacids most definitely come in handy.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux has continually been considered as basically the same thing. People tend to regard everything as heartburn most times. While these two conditions are closely related they are not entirely the same thing. One in itself is a medical condition with the other as a symptom of the condition. Just like people often address Fatigue and drowsiness as a similar condition whereas, drowsiness is a symptom of fatigue the same misconception applies to Heartburn and Acid Reflux
What Is Heartburn?
Basically, heartburn is one of the many symptoms of Acid Reflux condition. Heartburn is simply a condition where you feel a burning sensation or sharp pain in your upper chest region. Sometimes, it extends to the throat.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a digestive system disorder in which the acid juices in the stomach find a way to travel back into the esophagus and line up the tract. To understand what leads to an Acid Reflux, you have to understand what goes on in the digestive system.
The Digestive System
In the digestive system, food passes through the mouth into the esophagus before traveling down into the stomach. It is important that once food goes into our system that it doesn’t come back out. A muscle is known as the ‘Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES)’ helps prevent food in the stomach refluxing back into the esophagus.
When there is a situation where this stomach mixture (juice) finds a way to reflux back into the esophagus, there’ll be inflammation in the tract. When this happens one is said to have an acid reflux condition and will feel heartburn.
WHAT CAN CAUSE ACID REFLUX?
There are several factors that can put one at risk of experiencing Acid Reflux. Quite a number of things that we overlook daily enables the digestive system to be infected with the disease. Some of the factors include smoking, obesity, eating late into the night, usage of aspirin or ibuprofen, etc.
Sometimes even pregnant women are at high risk because of the presence of the fetus. Also, taking too many acidic foods, spicy foods, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol, and even chocolate can make one susceptible.
All these factors above in a way contribute to one of the major and common causes of acid reflux disease known as hiatal hernia. It is an abnormal condition in the stomach. Normally, the diaphragm is a muscle that divides the stomach region from the chest region. It also helps in keeping food contents in the stomach. So hiatal hernia happens when the upper region of the stomach and the LES shifts above the diaphragm. When this condition occurs, stomach juices are no longer protected, they can easily travel back into the esophagus and cause inflammation. When acid reflux becomes frequent in the digestive tract. It leads to a more chronic condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s a long term condition compared to ordinary acid reflux.
SYMPTOMS OF ACID REFLUX
The most common symptom of acid reflux is :
♦Heartburn: When you have acid reflux disease you’ll begin to experience a burning sensation in the upper chest region. This pain is actually caused by the inflammation of the esophagus when stomach acid reflux into it like cited earlier.
While heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux it doesn’t automatically equate to acid reflux.
Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
♦Regurgitation: This is another common symptom. You begin to feel the taste of foods you’ve consumed in the mouth much later. When the stomach content moves back into the esophagus some parts of it could also escape into the mouth.
♦Bad breath: This can be as a result of regurgitation. You’ll start experiencing foul odor in your breath. Sometimes the bad breath also occurs because of the irritation in the lining of the esophagus when the acidic contents cause inflammation.
♦Dry Cough: Dry cough and forceful breathing are also one of the many symptoms of acid reflux. The irritation in the throat could cause incessant coughing and block the easy passage of air.
♦Bloating: Due to the refluxing of acid juices, there might be an accumulation of waste gases in the stomach and intestines. The stomach might begin to feel bloated in such circumstances.
♦ Hiccuping: The diaphragm shifts from its normal position when acid reflux occurs, so you might begin to hiccup frequently.
♦Haematemesis: This is simply a condition where you begin to pass out blood in the form of vomit. Most times, this symptom begins to surface when the esophagus has been irritated repeatedly by the acid reflux. When one begins to observe blood in vomits, it means the symptoms are getting severe.
HEARTBURN VS ACID REFLUX
We’ve been able to establish the fact that Heartburn and Acid Reflux are not exactly synonymous while they may be used interchangeably. Basically, Acid Reflux is the condition with a common symptom of heartburn.
Acid Reflux can turn into a more severe condition known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs as a result of incessant acid reflux in the digestive tract.
Other Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn sometimes could just be as a result of consuming certain foods that include: spicy foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, beverages, chocolates, alcohol, etc.
Common heartburn could even disappear without any form of medication. Should it become frequent, then you should worry about acid reflux before it becomes a severe condition.
There are certain points where you have to realize your heartburn needs medical attention like:
when you wake up from your sleep with a burning sensation in your chest,
when you can’t swallow food without feeling a lot of sharp pain in your throat,
when the heartburn worsens anytime you lay down or engage in strenuous activity,
when breathing becomes quite difficult, etc.
Treatment for Heartburns
Antacids help relieve the burning sensation because it neutralizes the acidic juices causing the pain and discomfort within a short period. Most times, the effects of antacids are short term.
•Omeprazole and Ranitidine
These drugs also help ease the symptoms of heartburn. Unlike antacids, they take time to start working but their effects are oftentimes longer.
You should also avoid certain foods when you have heartburn. Some of these foods include:
•Citrus fruits (e.g Orange, Lemon, etc)
Avoiding sleeping or lying down within two hours of eating could also be of immense help to ease the discomfort of heartburn.
You should see a doctor immediately you notice symptoms of the heartburn persists.
TREATMENT OF ACID REFLUX
Often times, taking antacids that you keep at home in case of an emergency to treat your heartburn symptoms is temporary. Antacids help relieve you by neutralizing acidic contents in the stomach. You might need to seek proper medication when the symptom persists.
Changing your eating habit is also important when treating acid reflux. You need to stop eating late in the night and snacking when it’s bedtime. When acid reflux might have graduated into Gastroesophageal reflux disease, surgery could be recommended for more severe cases. The best thing is to immediately see a doctor when symptoms persist for better treatment.
Tests For Acid Reflux
When you see a doctor concerning symptoms of Acid reflux, they would need to perform a diagnosis to know the proper medication to be described. Common examples of these tests are:
♦ Esophageal Manometry
This diagnosis examines the regular muscle contractions in your gullet while you swallow. It furthermore deals with the coordination and power exerted by the muscles of your esophagus.
In this test, a thin, plastic tube would be inserted down your throat. The tube would have light and a camera (endoscope). It would analyze the insides of your esophagus in order to detect any form of inflammation that might be present.
♦ Digestive tract X-ray
You’ll be required to drink a chalky liquid when they’re about to take the X-ray of your digestive tract. The liquid will glaze the lining of your esophagus and run down into the intestine. The glazing will make it easier for the doctor to have a vivid picture of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. From the X-ray, they’ll be able to detect parts of the tract affected by the acid reflux.
Having a Heartburn or a condition of Acid Reflux can be very uncomfortable as well as painful. You should know that heartburns that are the result of eating spicy food can cause ulcers in the long run. While it is prudent to avoid self-medication, avoiding spicy food can relieve you of heartburn in the short term.
Should the symptom persist, you can suspect that you may be suffering from Acid reflux. In that case, do see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.