What Is Acid Reflux Disease?
At the entrance to your stomach is a valve, which is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, the LES closes as soon as food passes through it. If the LES doesn't close all the way or if it opens too often, acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as a burning chest discomfort called heartburn. If acid reflux symptoms happen more than twice a week, you may have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?
One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia. This occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Normally, the diaphragm helps keep acid in our stomach. But if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease.
These are other common risk factors for acid reflux disease:
Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal.
Being overweight or obese.
Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist.
Snacking close to bedtime.
Eating certain foods, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods.
Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications.
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease?
Common symptoms of acid reflux are:
Heartburn: A burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat
Regurgitation: A sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth
Other symptoms of acid reflux disease include:
Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting
Dysphagia -- the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
Hiccups that don't let up
Weight loss for no known reason
Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
How Is Acid Reflux Disease Diagnosed?
It's time to see your doctor if you have acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week or if medications don't bring lasting relief. Symptoms such as heartburn are the key to the diagnosis of acid reflux disease, especially if lifestyle changes, antacids, or acid-blocking medications help reduce these symptoms. If these steps don't help or if you have frequent or severe symptoms, your doctor may order tests to confirm a diagnosis and check for other problems. You may need one or more tests such as these:
Barium swallow (esophagram) can check for ulcers or a narrowing of the esophagus. You first swallow a solution to help structures show up on an X-ray.
Esophageal manometry can check the function and movement of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter.
pH monitoring can check for acid in your esophagus. The doctor inserts a device into your esophagus and leaves it in place for 1 to 2 days to measure the amount of acid in your esophagus.
Endoscopy can check for problems in your esophagus or stomach. This test involves inserting a long, flexible, lighted tube with a camera down your throat. First, the doctor will spray the back of your throat with anesthetic and give you a sedative to make you more comfortable.
A biopsymay be taken during endoscopy to check samples of tissue under a microscope for infection or abnormalities.
Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Diet and Lifestyle Changes?
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and modify the types of foods you are eating..
Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 inches to 6 inches.
Eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
Don't wear tight clothes or tight belts.
If you're overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Medications?
In many cases, lifestyle changes combined with over-the-counter medications are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux disease. Antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Riopan, can neutralize the acid from your stomach. But they may cause diarrhea or constipation, especially if you overuse them. It's best to use antacids that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. When combined, they may help counteract these gastrointestinal side effects. If antacids don't help, your doctor may try other medications. They require prescription. Your doctor may suggest more than one type or suggest you try a combination of medications such as these:
Foaming agents (Gaviscon) coat your stomach to prevent reflux.
H2 blockers (Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) decrease acid production.
Proton pump inhibitors (Aciphex, Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix) also reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
Prokinetics (Reglan, Urecholine) can help strengthen the LES, empty your stomach faster, and reduce acid reflux.
Don't combine more than one type of antacid or other medications without your doctor's guidance.
Is Acid Reflux Disease Ever Treated With Surgery?
If medications don't completely resolve your symptoms of acid reflux disease and the symptoms are severely interfering with your life, your doctor could recommend surgery. There are two types of surgical treatment used to relieve symptoms of GERD if daily use of medication isn't effective.
The most recently approved procedure involves surgically placing a ring known as a LINX device around the outside of the lower end of the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The ring consists of magnetic titanium beads held together by titanium wires. The device helps reflux by preventing stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. In one study, patients were able to stop taking medicine or cut down the amount they took. You shouldn't get the LINX device if you're allergic to certain metals, and once you have a LINX device you shouldn't get any type of MRI test.
Another surgical procedure called a fundoplication can help prevent further acid reflux. It creates an artificial valve using the top of your stomach. The procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the LES to strengthen it, prevent acid reflux, and repair a hiatal hernia. Surgeons perform this procedure through either an open incision in the abdomen or chest or with a lighted tube inserted through a tiny incision in the abdomen.
There are times when you've had tea on an empty stomach or had a hearty meal and felt a burn in your tummy, which further results in heartburn and acid reflux - we all have faced the problem at some point. Eating spicy foods, irregular eating habits, stress, lesser physical activity and drinking alcohol may cause acidity. It happens when stomach acid or bile flows in your food pipe and irritates the lining, causing an irritating discomfort and pain. While there are medications that can relieve you from the worsening pain; some natural ingredients also provide instant relief, including basil leaves, cinnamon, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, cumin seeds and cloves. Of these amazing natural remedies, clove (laung) tops the list. Here's why you should keep cloves handy!
What is Acidity and What are the Symptoms?
The food that we eat goes down the oesophagus into the stomach. The gastric glands in the stomach create acid that is necessary to digest the food. Acidity occurs when the gastric glands produce a large amount of acid, more than what's needed for digestion. This condition leads to a burning sensation just above the stomach. The condition is more prevalent in India as we tend to binge on more oily and spicy foods on a regularly basis.
Here are some symptoms of acidity that you should be aware of:
- Burning sensation in the stomach
- Burning sensation in the throat and heart
- Bad breath
- Prolonged sour taste in the mouth
Tip: Never lie down when you are suffering from acidity as it may only worsen the problem.
How Does Clove Help Soothe Acidity?
According to Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Coach Shilpa Arora, "Cloves promote good digestion and assimilation of nutrients. When added to curries and food, they help prevent acidity. Mix equal amount of cloves and cardamom to prevent the condition." It is their carminative effect that helps alleviate acidity and dispel gas. Cloves also improve saliva production, aids digestion and reduce peristalsis (muscle contractions in the digestive tract). Chewing on clove is recommended as siddha or ayurvedic remedy for heartburn.
How to Use Cloves to Soothe Acidity?
Chew two to three cloves so the juices are released into your system, giving you instant relief from acidity. Eat crushed cloves with cardamom, which will not only help minimise acid trouble, but also freshen the bad breath that often accompanies the condition. The best way to bring cloves in to use is to add them in curries and rice dishes to avoid any tummy trouble.
In case of extreme acidity and a prolonged condition, visit a doctor to ensure right treatment.
Today, olive oil is known as one of the healthiest oils for cooking food because of its low level of saturated fats. Olive oil is also said to be able to aid in weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, slow down the ageing process and protect against certain types of cancer. However, not all types of olive oil are the same. Olive oil is extracted by crushing olives and is categorised on the basis of the type of pressing, acidity levels and extent of processing undergone.
Some of the common types of olive oil available are:
Extra virgin olive oil: This refers to oil produced by the first ‘pressing’ of olives. This oil is extracted using only mechanical or other physical means and does not involve the use of heat or chemicals. The only processing is subjected to is washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. The maximum acidity level of this oil is 0.8%. Extra virgin olive oil has no added flavours or aroma and is said to have a superior taste.
Virgin olive oil: This is the second grade of olive oil. It has slightly higher level of acidity than extra virgin olive oil. It may seem to have a slight flavour imperfection as compared to the earlier oil. This is most commonly used type of olive oil.
Refined olive oil: Oil that is produced by subsequent pressings of the remaining olive flesh is known as refined olive oil. It has a lighter colour and is less viscous as compared to virgin olive oil. Unlike virgin olive oil, refined olive oil is bleached and deodorised. It may also be mixed with a little virgin olive oil. This type of oil has the same levels of monosaturated fat, but has very little antioxidants.
Olive pomace oil: The crushed flesh and pits left over from the extraction of olive oil is known as pomace. This may further be used to extract oil known as pomace oil. Pomace oil is an inferior oil that may be mixed with olive oil to improve its taste and texture.
Unfiltered olive oil: As the name suggests, the unfiltered olive oil contains bits of olive flesh. While this may enhance the flavour of the oil, it also causes a sediment to be formed at the bottom of the bottle. This sediment may become rancid over time and lower the shelf life of the oil. Unfiltered olive oil should ideally be used within 6 months of being bottled.
Apart from the above, there are a number of other types of olive oil such as early or late harvest olive oil, hand picked olive oil, single estate olive oil and flavoured oil.