1 in 5 people in the UK will have at least one acid reflux attack in a week. In the US 20% of the population have been diagnosed with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)…
So if you are suffering you are far from being alone.
Acid reflux may be common, but it makes us pretty miserable. Some of us only have the occasional attack, while others suffer from chronic conditions such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). However often you have it, acid reflux impacts on eating sleeping, exercise – all major aspects of your life.
This site is a resource to help you find ways of living with reflux by relieving the symptoms, or, by changing your lifestyle, maybe banishing it forever….
If you understand the cause you will find it easier to deal with a problem.
Where does the Acid come from?
Cells in the stomach lining produce hydrochloric acid to help breakdown the proteins in our food.
The stomach lining protects the stomach wall from the effects of acid. A ring of muscle at the top of the stomach called the “lower (o)esophageal sphincter” (LES), keeps the stomach closed and prevents acid from escaping. It should stay closed unless you are swallowing food
Acid escapes into the esophagus if this muscle relaxes at the wrong time. The esophagus has no protection against the effects of acid, unlike the stomach.
The acid will cause irritation, a burning sensation, and ultimately damage to the lining of the esophagus (as you would expect when hydrochloric acid is in contact with delicate tissue!)
It may be worse at night. The acid doesn’t have to fight gravity, when you are lying down, and will leak more easily.
If you experience acid reflux over a long period of time, the cells of the esophagus may cause more serious damage.
Recent research suggests that long term damage is not directly caused by acid. It may actually be caused but by the body’s own immune system, trying to correct the problem.
What causes Acid reflux?
Some people are born with a weak lower esophageal sphincter. For others elements of their lifestyle are the major cause, sometimes alongside a physical problem.
Anything putting pressure on your stomach can cause acid reflux. The most common causes are obesity and pregnancy, for obvious reasons.
Tight clothes and belts can have the same effect.
Some people suffer from a condition known as hiatus hernia, where part of the stomach is squeezed up into the chest through the diaphragm. This also causes acid to leak upwards into the esophagus.
Smoking causes the sphincter to be more relaxed, more often, and acid leaks upwards as a result…another bad thing about smoking!! You may be surprised to see that eating and drinking anything acidic do not feature highly in this. Acid food and drink may irritate a burned or inflamed esophagus. but they don’t cause the problem directly.
Acid itself is not the problem!
It is necessary for your digestion – you just need to keep it in the right place….
Understanding the physical causes, and how elements of your lifestyle may affect the condition, will help you to do just that.
Explore the rest of this site to find out more about the symptoms of acid reflux. Take a look at the ways that changes in lifestyle and habits can help, and the most effective medication for you.