Acid Reflux is a condition where some stomach contents get pushed up the wrong way, in other words, part way up the esophagus.
The stomach acid, pepsin and bile irritate the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
Acid reflux causes a burning sensation, starting from the stomach, and working its way up towards the chest.
It may reach as high as the throat. This is called Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.
Acid Reflux Complications
Chronic acid reflux problems can lead to permanent damage to the lower esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus is an example of such permanent damage.
Barrett’s esophagus refers to permanent changes in the cells that form the lining of the lower esophagus.
It is thought that this is caused by chronic acid reflux problems.
Barrett’s esophagus can lead to an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus.
Acid Reflux Causes
A number of different things can cause acid reflux. Allergies and celiac disease are covered separately below.
Foods that do not agree with you can cause acid reflux. Certain foods can make the condition worse, see Acid Reflux Cures for a list.
Acid Reflux and Allergies
Acid reflux is not closely related to allergies, although some allergies sufferers do experience acid reflux as one of their symptoms, especially in delayed reaction allergies due to food.
Acid Reflux and Celiac Disease
As with most types of medical conditions, there are two approaches to curing acid reflux.
One approach is to take acid reflux medication. While this may work, all medication has side-effects, and you should definitely not take medication for acid reflux on a long-term basis.
A much better approach is to deal with the root cause of your acid reflux problem.
The first step in this process it to determine the cause. To some extent, you can experiment with your diet and see if that helps.
Next, remove the underlying problem. Changing your diet often helps.
Some people report that proper food combining alleviates acid reflux. For example, do not eat carbohydrates and proteins at the same meal, and always have fruit on it’s own, never combine it with any other type of food.
Weight-loss (if you are over-weight) and elevating your head slightly above your feet have been shown to consistently improve acid reflux problems.
Try raising the head of your bed about an inch or two above the foot of your bed (by placing blocks of wood, or some other solid and stable objects under the feet at the head of your bed).
Also, avoid eating within two hours of bed time.
If you have any food allergies, avoiding these foods may help with your acid reflux problem.
Of course if you are celiac, then you must cut out all gluten right away. In this case, acid reflux is the least of your problems.
The following may make acid reflux worse:
- Excessive Vitamin C supplements (subjective – high levels of vitamin C are very beneficial to other aspects of your health).
- High-fat foods
- Large meals. Instead, eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Carbonated drinks
- Acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as onions, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts.
Note: the above list is largely anecdotal, so experiment, see if these changes help, especially specific foods. You are better off without some of the things on this, such as smoking. On the other hand, citrus fruits and vitamin C are beneficial.
Acid Reflux Terminology
Acid reflux is one common name for this condition. Here are other terms, some technical, others common:
- Heart burn
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
- Gastric reflux disease
- Acid reflux disease
- Wikipedia on Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Wikipedia on Barrett’s esophagus
- U Toronto on Acid Reflux Symptoms