Can you cure Acid Reflux?

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Acid reflux or GERD is a common health issue. It can affect both women and mens health. It is regurgitation of stomach content high in acid into the esophagus. Reflux is prevented by the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which remains tightly closed and opens when peristaltic waves herald the imminent arrival of swallowed food. When the LES becomes incompetent acid reflux will result. This is called gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD.

So can you cure your acid reflux? If there is true lower esophageal incompetence, then there is no cure. You will need maintenance treatment with acid suppressants like omeprazole, or surgical treatment like fundoplication will relieve your symptoms if very severe or you develop secondary problems.

There are, however, various factors that can affect the efficiency of the LES and acid reflux. Eliminating these factors may avoid a trip to your doctor or taking over the counter medication. A change in lifestyle is sometimes all you need.

Obesity can cause or contribute to acid reflux. This is especially so in the apple type distribution of weight. The increased bulk in the abdomen makes it difficult for the esophagus to discharge food effectively into the stomach. In addition hiatus hernia is more common in obese individuals. The LES can be weakened by a hiatus hernia. Losing weight is an important aspect of acid reflux treatment.

Acid reflux can be caused by wearing tight fitting clothes especially if it is two sizes too small. The increased pressure on the stomach may force acid back up into the esophagus. Wear loose clothes and your reflux symptoms may go away.

A large meal entering the stomach will put pressure on the LES and can cause acid reflux. We all experience this at some time or other. The large volume also increases gastric clearance time allowing more opportunity for reflux. Eating smaller portions more frequently will counter this problem.

Certain foods can affect acid reflux. Allergic Eosinophilic Esophagitis is an inflammation caused by cow’s milk intolerance. Removing cow’s milk protein from your diet will control this. Other foods such as fats, coffee, alcohol, tea and some spices can affect the lower esophageal sphincter.

The lower esophageal sphincter can be affected by some drugs and cause acid reflux. These drugs include broncho-dilators such as theophylline, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), tri-cyclic antidepressants ie amitryptilline and drugs for Parkinson’s disease.

Female hormones can affect acid reflux. Women on hormones, in a Scandinavian Study had showed a greater risk. These drugs include the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the contraceptive pill. Sedatives and tranquillisers can slow down peristaltic waves in the esophagus affecting proper discharge of food from the esophagus.

If you have GERD and you are on medication, opt for liquid medication. Tetracycline and certain other drugs are corrosive to the lining of the esophagus. Tablets and capsules (gelcaps) can lodge in the esophagus. Always drink a glass of water after medication to wash it down. Avoid taking medication while lying down. GERD patients should always take drugs standing or sitting up and avoid lying down immediately after.

Nicotine in corrosive to the esophageal lining and also relaxes the LES. GERD symptoms improve when you give up smoking.

GERD risk is increased by certain exercises. This is the case in competitive weightlifting and cycling. Joggers can develop GERD symptoms.

If by eliminating all the risk factors, your symptoms disappear, then you have actually cured your acid reflux. However, if the symptoms persist, the next step is a visit to your doctor.


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