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Acid Relux - How To Conquer It
Heartburn, as most people know, isn't really your heart catching fire, its just that the pain comes from that area. This pain is caused by a condition known as acid reflux, where liquid from your stomach goes in the wrong direction, moving up the oesophagus, or refluxing. As this acid attacks the tissue in your oesophagus (your throat in other words) it causes a great deal of pain and this pain often feels like it's coming directly from your heart. Some people have mistaken severe attacks of acid reflux as actual heart attacks.
Small amounts of this happen with everyone, and most people will have experienced the foul taste of vomit in the mouth when you're not actually being sick. However, with severe acid reflux, known to scientists as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder, or GERD, acid stays in the throat for longer, causing much more pain.
During the day, acid reflux happens frequently in tiny amounts, as your stomach churns around digesting food. Unless you eat lying down, this generally isn't a problem, as the acid drains straight back to the stomach, and the next time you swallow, saliva neutralises and flushes out any remaining acid.
It's at night while you are sleeping that acid reflux can cause real problems. Fluid will find it much harder to drain out while you're lying flat, and this is combined with the reduction of saliva production and swallowing. It's also the time when you want to sleep; the last thing you want is to be rudely awaken to a mouth full of acid.
While anyone can suffer from acid reflux, certain groups are far more prone to it. The high hormone levels associated with pregnancy can trigger severe bouts of GERD, as the lower the pressure in the stomach and allow the valve joining the oesophagus and the stomach to relax, allowing acid to move upwards. This is made worse by the baby pushing the stomach upwards, therefore forcing some of the fluid out.
Minor acid reflux will lead to minor symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation of food and perhaps nausea. If it's more severe, then logic says that so will the symptoms be more severe. Acid can damage the oesophageal lining, and the body will respond by swelling the lining to get a better blood supply and aid the healing. An ulcer can often form, and bleeding may occur. When this happens, blood transfusions or surgery may be necessary. If you suspect your acid reflux is severe then you should see a doctor immediately.
Several steps can be taken to reduce the effects of acid reflux. Sleeping with a pillow that tilts your head forward slightly can aid drainage back to the stomach, and trying to eat less but more often will prevent your stomach from overflowing, which is often a cause of acid reflux. Don't go all out, but try cutting back on spicy or acidic foods like citrus fruit or fizzy drinks, and reduce consumption of chocolate, peppermint, alcohol and consider stopping smoking.
Experiment and see what works, its different for everyone so find something that works for you.
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