Acid reflux also known as gastric reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a symptom (chronic) of mucosal damage experienced when the acid in the stomach moves up from the stomach into the esophagus. ln this case, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close well or it opens too often. Acid reflux can lead to a subject having a burning chest that is heartburn.
Causes of Acid Reflux
One of the common causes of acid reflux disease is an abnormality in the stomach known as hiatal hernia. In this case, there is alteration (temporary or permanent) of the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus whereby the upper part of the stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter move above the diaphragm. In hiatal hernia, acid moves up into the esophagus causing the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Other common risk factors of acid reflux disease are:
- Obesity or overweight;
- Eating large quantities of food or lying down immediately after meal;
- Consuming certain class of foods like tomato, citrus, garlic, mint, chocolate, onion, spicy or fatty foods; Snacking very close to bedtime;
- Consumption of alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee or tea;
- Drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, some muscle relaxants and blood pressure medications.
Symptoms of Acid reflux Disease
- Heartburn: a burning pain that may radiate from the stomach to the abdomen or chest and sometimes to the throat .
- Regurgitation: a situation where a sour/bitter tasting acid backs up in one’s throat or mouth;
- Blood in the stool or bloody vomiting;
- Dysphagio: narrowing of the esophagus. This creates a sensation of food being stuck in the throat. Hiccups;
- Weight loss;
- Wheezing, dry cough, sore throat and hoarseness.
Acid Reflux Home Remedy
- Acid reflux remedies can be pharmacological agents or natural agents. Natural remedies for acid reflux mostly involve lifestyle modifications, change in diets and habits.
- The following lifestyle changes and modifications can reduce reflux.
- Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime. This will help regulate (decrease) stomach acid production which therefore allows the stomach to empty easily;
- Avoid lying down, at any time of the day, immediately after eating;
- Allow the head side of your bed always elevated (gravity helps to prevent reflux);
- Don’t eat large quantities of food. This usually requires an increased amount of acid to digest. Smaller and more frequent meals is preferred;
- Avoid fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, mint or mint-flavoured foods, citrus and foods prepared with a lot of tomatoes. These foods decrease the efficiency of the lower esophageal sphincter;
- Quit smoking;
- Make proper use of potential natural acid reflux remedies like chamomile, liquorice, marshmallow and slippery elm. These herbs are available in the form of supplements/tinctures and they are classified amongst the remedies for acid reflux;
- Avoid wearing tight clothes;
- Try some relaxation techniques. Yoga promotes the mind and body awareness. Also, quite meditation and deep breathing for few minutes can relieve one’s stress levels;
The lifestyle changes for acid reflux disease can be combined with Over-The-Counter medications for a greater therapeutic outcome.
Antacids such as Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids or Riopan can be used to neutralize the stomach acid. These substances should not be misused as they may cause diarrhea and constipation. Antacids having a combination of magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide are best used for treating acid reflux disease.
Antacid brands containing these substances will counteract the gastrointestinal side effects. Apart from antacids, other medications that can be used are:
- Foaming agents (Gaviscon): This coats the stomach to prevent reflux.
- H2 receptor blockers (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid) can be used to decrease stomach acid secretion/ production.
- Proton pump inhibitors (Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Prilosec, Nexium) are also used to regulate stomach acid production.
- Prokinetics (Reglan, Urecholine): These can trigger fast stomach emptying and stop acid reflux.
In rare cases where acid reflux disease cannot be treated with pharmacological or herbal agents, surgery can be recommended.
Fundoplication or LINX device, depending on the doctor’s decision, can be used.
Homeopathic remedies for acid reflux
Homeopathy works by giving small dose of a remedy, whose characteristics are peculiar to the person in need of that remedy, to the person. Homeopathy relies not only on identifying the disease symptoms but also on a variety of personality traits (an individual’s mental state and other characteristic symptoms which conform to any particular remedy).
Homeopathic remedies for acid refiux and heartburn includes:
- Nux vomica;
- Arsenicum album;
- Pulsatilla and
- Carbo vegetabilis.
Acid reflux disease may be confused with other diseases if not properly diagnosed. However, advice from a gastroenterologist is highly recommended. The natural acid reflux remedies complement the pharmacological treatment plan.
Similarly, subjects affected should not combine more than one type of antacids or other medications without the consent of a medical practitioner (doctor).