What Everybody Ought To Know About Acid Reflux
We've all experienced acid reflux, that burning sensation that travels up the esophagus into the back of the throat. Here are some basic facts about acid reflux that everyone should know.
Foods That Trigger Acid Reflux
For most people, acid reflux, or heartburn, is triggered by specific foods. Common food irritants include greasy, spicy or fatty foods, citrus, acidic foods (ketchup, mustard, and pickles), carbonation, caffeine, alcohol, tomatoes, onions and chocolate. This list will vary depending on the person and their eating habits, but most people can find their acid reflux trigger in this list. If you are unsure what foods trigger your acid reflux, track everything you eat for a few days and note when you experience heartburn. You may need to cut out one food at a time to determine the specific cause. For example, if you get acid reflux after eating a burger and fries, you have to figure out if it was the hamburger, the ketchup, mustard, pickles, tomato, or the fries. Chances are it was more than one item.
Lifestyle Triggers of Acid Reflux
Many lifestyle factors can cause acid reflux. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, weight gain, stress and poor eating habits can all affect symptoms of acid reflux. People who overeat or eat within 2 to 4 hours of going to bed are much more likely to experience heartburn and may find relief from elevating their head with pillows, or raising the head of their beds about six inches. These factors should be monitored regardless of acid reflux, as they promote overall physical health.
How Much Acid Reflux Is Normal?
It is estimated that 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least one time each month. Many people experience it much more frequently, even as much as a few times a week. If your heartburn persists despite dietary changes, lifestyle changes and over the counter medications, be sure to see your doctor. Don't take any medication longer than the recommended time period listed on the package.
When To See A Doctor
Recurrent acid reflux may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should consult a doctor immediately:
- Bloody or dark stool
- Severe abdominal or chest pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Asthma, wheezing or difficulty breathing
Long Term Effects of Acid Reflux
As with any health problem, it is best to identify and treat the root cause of the condition. If your acid reflux is caused by diet, the most appropriate course of action would include determining what foods trigger the acid reflux and monitoring diet to prevent it altogether. Antacids and other medications should really only be used occasionally, to treat periodic flare-ups, not frequent poor diet choices.
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