What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux sometimes referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is another name for heartburn. Symptoms may include stomach discomfort, pain behind the breastbone and regurgitation. Muscles of the esophagus might become weakened when some particular food items are eaten causing the food to be sent back. This type of food items include fat rich food, spicy food carbonated beverages, caffeine, garlic, onions, tomato mixes and fried foods. A particular person might be affected by one or more of the items mentioned above.[toc]
When regurgitation occurs, the lower esophageal sphincter opens and lets the hydrochloric acid in the stomach go back out. You will feel a bitter or sour taste in the mouth due to the acidity in the mouth from the hydrochloric acid that touches the esophagus lining. Burning sensation occurs in the chest and throat region.
This trigger for this condition may also be a large meal. When you eat more, the stomach will delay the digestion. This will result in excess secretion of digestive juices.
Causes for acid reflux
- Eat heavily
- Eat certain kinds of foods
- Genetic causes
- Drugs taken for other ailments
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol intake
Just as heavy meal intake and spicy food increases the chances of acid reflux, having a brother or father who has acid reflux increases the possibility that you will have it. This of course, is not a certainty and you could have a sister who has regular attacks of acid reflux without having it yourself. Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that slows down the emptying of the stomach. One side effect of this is that you might develop reflux.
Medicines for relaxation, sedatives and sleeping pills cause acid reflux. So, if you take diazepam it is likely that you will have heartburn. Aspirin is a wonder medicine all right, but it also causes heartburn. Beta blocker and calcium channel blockers used to treat elevated blood pressure can make the esophageal sphincter to relax resulting in acid reflux.
Drugs used to treat osteoporosis such as risedronate and alendronate cause heavy heartburn. Certain medicines like ibuprofen increases acid production in the stomach. The safer alternative to this is acetaminophen. Iron supplements too increase the possibility of acid reflux. Antibiotics too are known to cause heartburn.
People who take alcohol and smoke regularly will experience heartburn due to the high acidity of the stomach. You are likely to experience this if you are overweight because of changed metabolic rate.
Though vinegar has lots of good properties and boosts energy levels, one has to use it judicially since most of these benefits are yet to be proven scientifically. However, since ancient times, apple cider vinegar was used to treat heartburn. In a glass of water, mix in a spoonful or two of vinegar and have it before you have your meal. Keep it down to once a day as you might have bad side effect if you overdose.
You can have apple cider vinegar (ACV) for heartburn, but play it safe. Since nothing is known about its effect on pregnant women and those are breastfeeding, it is wise not to give this to them. Also, since it causes a drop in sugar levels, patients who have diabetes must monitor their sugar levels carefully. Long term consumption of large quantities (8 ounces daily) could result in decreased potassium levels. Similarly, patients who are prescribed water pills like lasix, lanoxin or thalitone should be careful.
It is also possible to counter the acidity by over-the-counter medication. Proton pump-inhibitors and H-2 receptor-blockers might also come in useful. For these medications you need a prescription. Side effects are also known in patients who used these. One was the breakage of the hip for those who crossed 50 years of age. This was because of the reduced ability by the body to absorb calcium.
You can choose alternative methods to solve the reflux problem too. This will include lifestyle changes like opting for “safe foods” that suit your digestion. By reducing the size of your meal, you can get better relief. Doing small amounts of exercise like walking or jogging helps you reduce your weight and problem of reflux. You can get it in tablet and capsule form too though this lacks freshness of liquid vinegar.
Good aspects of ACV
ACV has the following:
- pH Balancing Property
- Vitamins – vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin
- Minerals – magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, potassium
In addition to providing relief for reflux, ACV finds use for treating sore throats, infections, slow digestion and cramps or pain in the leg. The lower acidity level of ACV helps to keep the stomach pH level at 3.0, which is lower than normal acidity levels. The digestion process takes place but there is opening of the esophageal valve that could result in reflux.
Taken together with honey, apple vinegar made from organic apples with bacteria known as “mother of vinegar” in between meals helps lower the stomach acidity level and suppresses appetite. Thus, people who are overweight will find it beneficial. It helps improve bowel regularity in those who have problems with their bowel movement.
It reduces blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. It induces a feeling of fullness and so people eat less than they normally would. Measurable biological factors in heart diseases were shown to decrease when the person consumed vinegar. This study has not been conducted on humans.
It also has some cosmetic uses such as in skin care and hair conditioning, pet care and dental upkeep. People who want natural medicines and solutions try ACV.
Effectiveness of therapy depends on how robust the person is and how much he or she eats. Make modification to diet and incorporate enough exercises to develop a healthy lifestyle that will keep you free of acid reflux completely.