Acid reflux is when stomach acid rises upwards into the esophagus. The stomach is designed to withstand the acid, but the esophagus is not. The acid causes pain, such as heartburn and can eventually lead to bleeding and damage of the esophagus. One of the main reasons the acid is released is that there is a problem with the valve called the lower esophageal sphincter. There are factors that can increase a persons risk for acid reflux. These factors include: being obese or overweight, eating large meals, lying down soon after eating a meal, pregnancy, smoking, hiatal hernia, asthma, and Diabetes.
In addition to these factors, certain foods can cause acid reflux. These foods include tomatoes and tomato based products, chocolate, onions, spicy food, alcohol, peppermint, citrus fruits, fatty foods, carbonation, and caffeine. Avoiding these foods as well as eating frequent, smaller meals often helps alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux.Some foods can help lesson the occurrence of acid reflux. Apples are good to neutralize stomach acid and relieve heart burn. Drinking lots of water or skim milk can help the sphincter valve to close more tightly. The liquids can also help dilute the stomach acid. Foods that can help neutralize stomach acid are figs, yogurt, pineapple, and decaffeinated tea.
The most common symptoms of acid reflux are: heartburn, chest pain, unexplained weight loss, burping, sensation of food being stuck in throat, frequent hiccups, nausea, bloating, dry cough, and difficulty swallowing. Many of these symptoms can be controlled with lifestyle and diet changes. There are also over-the-counter medications to provide relief from symptoms. If acid reflux occurs more than twice a week, or if the symptoms are severe, a doctor should be consulted.