Acid Reflux or acidity is the backward flow of the stomach contents into the esophagus (muscular tube through which ingested food passes from the mouth area to the stomach).
†It is due to improper functioning of a sphincter, a circular muscle which normally maintains constriction at the lower end of the esophagus. This backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus is called acidity. Acid reflux generally occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes and allows harsh stomach juices flow into the esophagus. It is also known as gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn. Acid reflux is a muscular weakness disease, not an acid problem. However, since there are no standard treatments to address the problem directly, acid blocking medications are commonly used to treat the problem.
Treatment of Acid Reflux
Antacids neutralize digestive acids and are the primary drugs for mild symptoms. They are best used alone for relief of occasional and unpredictable episodes of heartburn. They all work by neutralizing the acid in the stomach. They may also stimulate the defensive systems in the stomach by increasing bicarbonate and mucous secretion.
Calcium. Calcium carbonate (Tums, Titralac, and Alka-2) is a potent and rapid acting antacid that can cause constipation. These antacids are actually sources of calcium.
Aluminum. Aluminum salts (Amphogel, Alternagel) are also available. The most common side effect of antacids containing aluminum salts is constipation.
Diet and Prevention of Acidity or Heartburns
First of all, try to eat small, frequent meals instead of three big meals a day. Small amounts of food each time would exert less workload on the stomach and therefore requires less acid secretion for digestion.
Make sure to include foods that are high in complex carbohydrates in each meal. These foods, such as rice, breads and pasta, are able to tie up excess stomach acid and are often easy on the stomach.
Avoid high-fat meals such as those from the fast food chains.
High fat foods will remain in the stomach longer, thus causing the need for more stomach acid in order to digest them.
Eating too much of any foods will stimulate the stomach to secret more acids for digestion.
Avoid or limit alcohol
Maintain upright position during and at least 45 minutes after eating
Try elevating the head of bed six to eight inches when lying down.
Control your weight. Being overweight is one of the strongest risk factors for heartburn. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
Eat smaller meals. This reduces pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, helping to prevent the valve from opening and acid from washing back into your esophagus.
Eliminate heartburn triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onion, tomatoes, caffeine and nicotine may make heartburn worse.
Avoid stooping or bending. Tying your shoes is OK.
Raise the head of your bed. An elevation of about six to nine inches puts gravity to work for you.
Don't smoke. Smoking may increase stomach acid. The swallowing of air during smoking may also aggravate belching and acid reflux. In addition, smoking and alcohol increase your risk of esophageal cancer.