6 Signs You’re Suffering From Acid Reflux & How to Fix It
Acid reflux can be painful and even dangerous if left untreated.
Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux) is when stomach acid flows into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong. Over time, that acid can cause damage, irritation, and symptoms will get progressively worse. If left untreated, it could eventually lead to irreversible changes in the cell structures in the esophagus and increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
The most common signs and symptoms of acid reflux are:
- Heartburn – A burning sensation that can run from your throat to the center of your chest
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Chronic, dry cough
- Difficulty swallowing
- A sensation of a lump in your throat
- Horse or sore throat
If you experience acid reflux two or more times per week, you may have GERD. GERD can eventually lead to more serious conditions and should be evaluated by a doctor. (Schedule an appointment here)
Acid Reflux Diet
Identifying foods that cause your acid reflux is often the first step in treatment. The most common foods that worsen reflux include:
- Acidic Juices like Orange and Tomato Juice
- Coffee / Tea
- Fatty foods
Acid Reflux Remedies
To reduce the likelihood of acid reflux, you should avoid
- Eating right before bed
- Lying down after eating
- Eating very large meals
Other lifestyle and home remedies to reduce acid reflux include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Raising the head of your bed: Place bricks or blocks under the head of your bed to elevate your head. About six inches is enough. This helps keep the acid in your stomach while you sleep.
Acid Reflux Medicine
If diet and lifestyle changes haven’t relieved your acid reflux, your doctor may recommend non-prescription medication and over-the-counter remedies if your symptoms are mild.
Antacids are commonly used for short-term relief of acid reflux. Examples of antacids include Tums®, Maalox®, and Mylanta®.
Histamine antagonists (H2 blockers)
Cells in the lining of the stomach release a chemical called “histamine” to tell other cells to start making stomach acid. H2 blockers stop these acid-producing cells from responding to histamine, reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. However, they are somewhat less effective than proton pump inhibitors.
Examples of histamine antagonists available in the United States include ranitidine (Zantac®), famotidine (Pepcid®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), and nizatidine (Axid®).
Proton pump inhibitors
Patients with moderate to severe symptoms of acid reflux that have not responded to the lifestyle modifications and the options described above usually require treatment with prescription medications. Most patients are treated with a proton pump inhibitor.
These medications interfere with a stomach enzyme responsible for acid production, reducing the amount of acid your stomach creates. PPIs are the most powerful medications available to treat acid reflux.
PPIs include omeprazole (Prilosec®), esomeprazole (Nexium®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), dexlansoprazole (Kapidex®), pantoprazole (Protonix®), and rabeprazole (Aciphex®), which are stronger and more effective than the H2 antagonists.
Some of these medications, like omeprazole, are available without a prescription.
When Medications Don’t Work – Chronic Acid Reflux
Chronic acid reflux cases should be evaluated by one of our board-certified gastroenterologists.
If you’ve had persistent acid reflux symptoms for over 5 years, you should see one of our specialists immediately. (Schedule Now)
We’ll perform thorough testing to determine the health of your esophagus, and then plan out a custom treatment plan. At GCSA, we offer a variety of advanced procedures to diagnose and treat your acid reflux.