Acid reflux is a condition in which there is involuntary movement of the stomach contents back into the oesophagus. According to the National Institute of Health, it is a fairly common occurrence that only creates problems for some people when the stomach acids begin to cause uncomfortable symptoms. Acid reflux that occurs frequently is often called gastro-oseophageal reflex disease (GERD). Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available for dealing with the often sharp pain and burning discomfort of acid reflux.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can cause different symptoms in every person. The most common symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest or throat, regurgitation of stomach acid or food into the throat, a feeling of food trapped beneath the breastbone, heartburn, chest pain, vomiting, wheezing, persistent cough and even hoarseness in the morning. Bending over when standing may bring on symptoms. Symptoms are also more severe when lying down at night.
Acid Reflux Pain
Pain from acid reflux or GERD can manifest in many different ways. The pain can be dull or sharp, and centred in the centre of the chest, in the neck or into the shoulder and back. Symptoms are often confused with those from a heart attack because the pain occurs in the same areas and can be quite sharp in intensity.
Treatments for Acid Reflux
Prolonged problems with reflux can cause tissue damage of the oesophagus, so proper treatment is important. Lifestyle changes are often recommended for acid reflux problems. These include avoidance of spicy foods and other foods that are known to cause problems, quitting smoking and avoidance of alcohol. Over-the-counter antacids are recommended to counteract reflux problems. Several prescription medications are available for treating acid reflux. Surgery to strengthen the gastro-oseophageal valve may be necessary in some cases.
Acid Reflux Medications
When over-the-counter medications do not provide sufficient relief from pain, your physician may prescribe a prescription-strength version of H-2 receptors blockers like Tagamet or Pepcid. Proton pump inhibitors are another type of medication that help block acid production and heal damaged tissue in the oesophagus. Your doctor will give you information on dosage and side effects of these medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also medications called prokinetic agents that help the stomach empty faster and strengthen the esophageal valve.
Avoiding Acid Reflux Pain
Careful attention to diet, a regular schedule of over-the-counter or prescription medications and avoidance of smoking and alcohol can often eliminate all pain and discomfort of acid reflux disease. It is important to see your doctor for help with persistent acid reflux pain to avoid damage to esophageal tissue.