To counter the surge in the prevalence of acid reflux, lots of over the counter medications have been churned out of our pharmaceutical companies. A lot of theories abound, medically and naturally, about the root cause of this disease.
The first explanation for the cause of this condition is that because of the incompetence of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) acidic contents of the stomach are allowed up into the esophagus, which results in a burning sensation. The LES is a valve that is found at the lower end of the esophagus and separates it from the stomach and its contents but when this valve becomes dysfunctional, it allows the acidic content of the stomach to be regurgitated into the esophagus.
A separate school of thought believes that acidic reflux disease is caused by our eating habits. As it’s often said, living in the civilized world entails eating more junk food and packaged and processed food than the stomach can digest. So, when we put so much into the stomach, most of the food ends up undigested. These undigested food materials turn into acidic waste in the stomach. This waste causes stomach spasms or twitching that causes an increase in stomach gas that pops open the LES valve between the esophagus and stomach sending acidic contents up the esophagus.
Yet, acidic reflux disease can be traced to aging in adults. It is believed in some quarters that as we age, the activity of the stomach reduces, so also its ability to produce hydrochloric acid. The reduction in the stomach activity and acid content of the stomach creates a breeding ground for infections which in themselves cause stomach pain and acid production leading to further symptoms of acid reflux.
Whatever the cause of acid reflux disease, what is constant about it, is the fact that it is a chronic disease. Most medicines, which inhibit production of acid in the stomach, only help to relieve the burning effect and other symptoms and not actually cure the condition. As a matter of fact, these drugs help in relieving the symptoms quite effectively, but the other side of the coin is that these drugs also cause several side effects in the body by cutting down the acid production in your stomach. Some of their side effects are that they reduce the ability of the stomach to digest food efficiently, they make you more vulnerable to diseases and microbes transmitted through food, increases the risk of food poisoning and a host of others.
While there are many medications and natural methods to rid yourself of that burning sensation that accompanies each acid reflux bout, the first line of action should be a thorough assessment of the your food and lifestyle. Some food materials are known to aggravate acid reflux, some of the foods include; citrus, caffeine, chocolate, fatty fried foods, garlic, and onions. Cutting down or avoiding these foods as much as possible is a good first attempt at preventing future acid reflux bouts.
Additional lifestyle assessment and modification that can help reduce acid reflux episodes include:
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Cutting down alcohol to the barest minimum
- Eating just enough food to keep hunger away
- Don’t go to bed until at least three hours after eating
- Raise your bed head six to eight inches
These very simple lifestyle improvements can keep you off those acid blockers and other acid reflux medications that cause almost the same amount of damage as the good they do to your body.