There is a valve – a ring of muscle, situated at the entrance of the stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. The purpose of this valve is to close as soon as food has passed through it.
Sometimes, the LES opens too frequently or fails to close completely, and it is at these times when the acid produced in the stomach moves up into the esophagus, resulting in an uncomfortable, burning sensation in the chest, called acid reflux, also referred to as heartburn.
Causes Of Acid Reflux And How It Affects Your Quality Of Life
A hiatal hernia is one of the most common causes of heartburn. This is a stomach abnormality that prevents the diaphragm from keeping acid in the stomach, and instead, allows it to move up into the esophagus, causing the uncomfortable symptoms of heartburn.
Other Common Causes Include:
- Lying down directly after a meal
- Eating a very large meal
- Bending over at the waist or lying on your back immediately after eating a large meal
- Snacking just before you go to bed
Symptoms Of Heartburn
Make sure that you have acid reflux treatment available if you suffer any of the following symptoms:
- A burning, uncomfortable pain that moves from the stomach to the abdomen or chest and sometimes even up into the throat
- Regurgitating bitter or sour-tasting acid back into the throat or mouth
- Bloody vomiting
- Bloody or black stools
- Hiccups that won’t stop
- The feeling of having food stuck in the throat
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, a wheezing, dry cough
How Acid Reflux Can Affect Your Quality Of Life
Many people the world over suffer from heartburn, most of them having mild attacks, that a simple over-the-counter acid reflux treatment can provide almost instant relief for. However, some experience severe symptoms that over-the-counter options do not affect.
The following are some of the negative ways in which heartburn can affect your life.
A reluctance to eat – knowing that you’re going to experience uncomfortable symptoms every time you eat can make mealtimes unbearable.
This could make you reluctant to eat, whether at home or if you go out to a restaurant, to avoid having to go through nausea, difficulty in swallowing, and that burning chest pain.
Difficulty in getting through a day at work – certain activities, like bending and lifting, can trigger heartburn and make it extremely difficult to get through a day at work.
Even if you can get a note from your doctor that will allow you to do things at work without having to bend or lift anything, the thought of having a heartburn attack while doing your job can be somewhat disheartening.
Sleep deprivation – trying to fall asleep while you’re going through a bout of heartburn or waking up when it starts, will definitely cause you to lose sleep!
Acute pain – in many cases, the sharp pain that some people experience with heartburn, is very similar to the pain of a heart attack.
In fact, there are reports of some people rushing to the emergency room, convinced that they are having a heart attack when the pain they are experiencing is actually a severe attack of acid reflux!
In some cases, the person will also suffer, together with chest pains, the familiar heart palpitations as well as the pain down the left arm, associated with a heart attack.
Foods To Avoid When You Suffer From Heartburn
The food you eat will have a significant role to play in whether or not you have an attack of heartburn. Steer clear of foods with high levels of fat, such as hot chips, butter, cheese, whole milk, high-fat cuts of red meat, as well as creamy dips and sauces, and spicy foods.
Fruits and vegetables that can trigger acid reflux include citrus fruits, pineapples, onions, garlic, tomatoes as well as foods containing tomatoes, like salsa, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, and chili.
If you suffer from heartburn, then you should also avoid certain beverages like coffee, tea, alcohol, fizzy drinks, as well as tomato and citrus juices. Even decaffeinated coffee can trigger acid reflux, so monitor your reactions and only drink those beverages that you are able to tolerate well.