Acid Reflux FAQs
I have heartburn frequently and I think I may have acid reflux – should I see my doctor?
If you have heartburn 3 or more times a week for at least 2 weeks, you should see your doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you have symptoms of acid reflux that occur frequently, disrupt your sleep, interfere with work or other activities, or are not relieved by taking over the counter medication.
Don’t forget to tell your doctor if you have been taking any over the counter medication. It will help in deciding what will work for you.
Don’t leave acid reflux untreated or uninvestigated. For most of us this is easily treatable and has no serious consequences. However, you should see your doctor if you are suffering frequently as it may be a symptom of a more serious condition.
If investigation shows that you have a physical condition such as hiatus hernia, where part of the stomach sticks through an opening in the diaphragm, you may need surgery.
In a small number (about 10%) of people with chronic reflux the cells lining the esophagus change to resemble the cells lining the intestine. This condition is known as Barrett’s esophagus.
In very rare cases (less than 1% of people with Barrett’s disease) this can develop into a type of cancer.
So make sure your doctor checks you out if you are suffering over a long period of time.
What is the esophagus?
The esophagus is a muscular tube stretching from the throat to the stomach. All food and liquids that are swallowed pass through the esophagus.
Why doesn’t the acid irritate the stomach?
The stomach has a protective lining that resists damage by the acid. The thick cells that line the stomach secrete large amounts of protective mucus to stop acid irritating the stomach. The esophagus does not have this protection.
Why does the acid escape up into the esophagus?
A ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), acts as a valve at the opening between the esophagus and stomach. It opens when you are swallowing food, but should be tightly closed the rest of the time.
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes when you are not swallowing and after eating. This allows the stomach contents and acid to escape into the esophagus and cause burning and irritation.
Is heartburn the same thing as acid reflux?
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. The pain and discomfort of heartburn is the result of acid entering the esophagus as a result of reflux – the upward movement of acid escaping from the stomach.
Does stress cause Acid Reflux?
There is no evidence that stress causes Acid Reflux directly, but it may increase your sensitivity to the effects of acid. It may also increase the amount of acid your stomach produces. Go to our Lifestyle page to see how you can help yourself….
I’ve heard eating bananas can cure reflux…
Bananas have a number of qualities that are thought to help combat reflux. Research from India suggests that banana powder my help with acid reflux.
However, bananas are also notorious for causing heartburn. Whether or not bananas will help seem to be an individual matter. If you are going to try bananas you should eat them in combination with other foods, and never on an empty stomach. It may be important to avoid under-ripe or over-ripe bananas. This means you will have to be quite precise when selecting bananas. Some recommend that you try eating three bananas when you have reflux to see if it has a good or bad effect. I suspect that you will know long before you grab the third banana if the effect is going to be negative..
More Acid Reflux FAQs….
We will be updating this page with more Acid reflux FAQS regularly….