What is acid reflux? It is the backflow of stomach’s acidic contents into the esophagus or food pipe. The symptoms of acid reflux can be very irritating and are often confused as heart attack. If left untreated it can give serious esophageal damages and can be fatal. They can lead to development of ulcers and even cancer of the esophagus. Hence, one must consult his physician or family doctor for more information on acid reflux symptoms and treatment options.
What Are The Symptoms To Look For?
As stated earlier, some of the symptoms of acid reflux so similarity with heart attack that it can create panic in people. The frequency of the acid reflux can vary from one individual to the other. Even the symptoms can range from mild to severe.
The most common of the various symptoms that signal acid reflux disease, is heartburn. Heartburn does not bear any connection with the heart of the person. In fact it is a burning sensation that occurs in the food pipe and the chest area. Heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable and can often be accompanied by regurgitation of the undigested food in the mouth area, leaving a sour taste. Heartburn can worsen when one lies down.
Heartburn also engulfs the larynx or the throat area and the person can develop severe coughing and a hoarse throat. Sometimes, the coughing gets so bad that it make it difficult to sleep. The symptoms of coughing can eventually turn into asthmatic conditions. In addition to these, there can be difficulties in swallowing.
Chest pain is also very common in cases of reflux. At times, the chest pain leaves the person in panic of heart attack. The easy way to distinguish is that the acid reflux chest pain normally is reduced or gone after taking an antacid. In case of heart attack there is heaviness in the chest which does not seem to subside.
What Can You Do?
The foremost thing to do in case of reflux attacks is to calm down and retrospect the quality of life that one is leading. Having nutritious diet including enough vegetables and fruits combined with an active lifestyle with morning exercise or even walks can reduce the problems of heartburn to a great extent.
Apart from the lifestyle changes, one must get thorough diagnosis of the problem by a physician so as to rule out other abnormalities in the functioning of the body. For example, an EEG will rule out the possibilities of heart problems. Women can face acid reflux problems during there pregnancy. Similarly, threats of having hiatal hernia can also be ruled out.
Medical Acid Reflux Disease Treatments
Medicinal reflux treatments come in a two way process. Normally, for acid reflux problems the doctor suggests medicines and drugs complemented with lifestyle changes. In cases where these do not provide sufficient relief and the symptoms reoccur after stopping the medicines, endoscopies can be prescribed.
In very rare cases, the doctors may suggest surgery to fix the loosened lower esophageal sphincter valve. The surgery is however considered the last option when medicines seize to give any comfort.
The most commonly used medicinal treatment for acid reflux is antacids. Antacids provide immediate relief from the symptoms of heartburn by neutralizing the stomach acids. Gelusil, Mylanta, Tums are the popular antacids. Besides antacids, there are H2 blockers receptors. These work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. These medications are taken at least 30 minutes before the meals. Ranitidine, Cimetidine, Famotidine are some of the drugs under this category. Yet another effective treatment for acid reflux is the proton pump inhibitor. These work by blocking the acid production and thereby aiding the healing of the damaged esophagus. Prilosec, Nexium are the popular proton pump inhibitors. These medications are available over the counter. However, there are prescription medicines which are of greater strength than their OTC variant.
If medicines have little or no effect in curing the acid reflux symptoms, the doctor may advice certain tests such as the Barium X-Ray, endoscopies, acid probe test etc which can determine the condition and the severity of the esophageal damage. Based on the kind of damage, the doctor may suggest different medication or even surgery. The surgical procedure is very rare and is aimed at tying the upper layer of the stomach over the lower esophagus, thus tightening the esophageal sphincter.
Final Word about Acid Reflux Treatment
Though there are number of medications and treatments available for the problem of acid reflux, the best method is still adopting healthy lifestyle. The medicinal and alternative treatments just cure the symptoms and the best way to control these are changing diet and leading an active life.