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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux disease, affects about 20 percent of people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). It’s a more serious form of the common condition known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
GER occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) either relaxes spontaneously or doesn't tighten properly. The LES is a ring of muscles located in the esophagus that works as a valve between the esophagus and stomach. With GER, the acidic contents of the stomach go back up into the esophagus.
The LES relaxes in an inappropriate manner. Digestive juices rise up with the food, causing the most common symptom: a frequent, burning pain known as acid indigestion or heartburn located in the middle abdomen and chest.
For most of us, a big holiday dinner or a night out on the town with friends sounds like a great idea.
But for the millions of Americans living with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, it sounds more like a recipe for disaster.
Characterized by symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation, GERD is a chronic condition where the acidic contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus. This constant backwash of stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, and sufferers are left “feeling the burn.”
There are simple changes that patients can make to their diet and lifestyle to help them manage the discomfort of their acid indigestion, according to Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Yale University.
“It basically comes down to how frequently they’re having symptoms and how much the symptoms are affecting their life,” Sheth. “Avoiding caffeine, eliminating fatty or acidic foods, losing excess weight and quitting smoking are all things patients can do to control their acid reflux.”
Symptoms Of Acid Reducer
Heartburn is a burning feeling in the center of your chest. It can happen after you eat, after you bend over, or when you lie down.
Simple daily changes might be all you need, such as:
- Stop smoking.
- Lose weight, if needed.
- Eat small meals, more often.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Don’t lie down for 3 hours after eating.
- Raise the head of your bed by 6-8 inches.
- Avoid food or beverages that might make symptoms worse.
If you’re thinking of trying medicine, talk it over with your doctor, even if you can buy it “over the counter,” which means you don’t need a prescription.
Causes Of Acid Reducer
Have you ever tried to stop taking these medications cold turkey? Wow! You thought that you had heartburn before, but when you stop these medications, you get heartburn like never before. Of course, you assume that your heartburn has gotten worse, so you continue taking it because it’s “protecting” you. However, this is not true, and it is an expected outcome.
As it turns out, your body doesn’t like it when you neutralize your stomach acid. In fact, it begins ramping up production of the hormone called Gastrin to stimulate the acid. This hormone goes to the cells of the stomach and tells them to make more acid! …more, more, more!
However, as long as you’re taking stomach acid reducers, the cells are crippled: they cannot produce additional acid. So …. what does the body do?
Well, it makes more gastrin! …and more gastrin …and more gastrin …and more gastrin …you get the point.
Then, when you abruptly stop the stomach acid reducers, all of a sudden, this massive amount of gastrin goes to town on the stomach cells. Now, they are producing more stomach acid than they’ve ever produced in their entire lives – even when there’s no food present. The massive influx of acid on an ill-prepared stomach lining causes severe symptoms nearly immediately.
Common Acid Reducer Medicines
Adverse effects Of Acid Reducer
Prevention Of Acid Reducer
To find out which medicine is right for you, talk to your family doctor. They can tell you about the benefits and risks. Antacids and acid reducers rarely cause side effects. If they do, the side effects usually are minor and go away on their own. These may include headaches, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Talk to your doctor before taking antacids if you have kidney disease. You should avoid any antacid that contains calcium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate unless your doctor recommends it.
Talk to your doctor before taking a proton pump inhibitor if:
- You are elderly or haveimmune system problems. PPIs can increase your risk for pneumonia.
- You are a postmenopausal woman. PPIs reduce calcium absorption and increase your risk for osteoporosis.
- You have been treated for aClostridium difficile (C. diff.) infection in the past. PPIs may increase the risk that your infection returns.
Diagnosis Of Acid Reducer
Let your doctor know how the OTC medicines work for you. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, the doctor may suggest a prescription medicine. If possible, try not to take PPIs long-term. These can increase your risk of certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, kidney disease, and dementia.
Tell your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms. They may be signs of a more serious problem.
- Bloody or black stools.
- Bloody vomit.
- Heartburn that has not improved after 2 weeks of treatment with OTC medicines.
- Trouble swallowing or pain when you swallow.
- Unplanned weight loss.
If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and pain in your arms, you may be having a heart attack.Acid Reducers
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