Acid Reflux Symptoms and Treatments

Also referred to as burp-up, acid reflux is a rather unpleasant and irritating occurrence that can strike at any time of day or night, usually after consuming certain foods or beverages. Both men and women can experience it, but it is more prevalent among men.

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The full medical term for Acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and it is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs because the flap covering the entrance to the stomach is not closing properly after a meal, thus acid and undigested bits of food escape and flow back into the esophagus, causing burning sensations and a range of other uncomfortable symptoms. The ultimate cause of GERD is still not fully understood, but it is believed to be a lack of communication between the stomach and the brain.

The following comprehensive overview will delve deeper into acid reflux and lay out its varying symptoms, along with risk factors, diagnosis, medical treatments, lifestyle changes and self-help remedies.


The symptoms of acid reflux vary from person to person, but the most common ones include:

1. Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest, often after eating or lying down.
2. Regurgitation: The feeling of acid backing up into the throat or mouth.
3. Difficulty swallowing: A sensation of food sticking in the throat or chest.
4. Chest pain: Sharp or burning pain in the chest, often mistaken for a heart attack.
5. Chronic cough: A persistent cough, especially at night.
6. Hoarseness: Changes in the voice, such as a raspy or hoarse quality.
7. Nausea: Feeling queasy or experiencing an upset stomach.

Additionally, it is worth noting that not everyone with acid reflux experiences all of these symptoms, and the severity is different in each person as well.

Risk Factors

Although there is no way to 100% prevent it, there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing acid reflux. For instance, obesity and excess weight puts pressure on the stomach, and hiatal hernias cause the upper section of the stomach to bulge through the diaphragm, allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus. If you’re pregnant, the associated hormonal changes also increase pressure on the abdomen.

Smoking tobacco significantly weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that prevents acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some antidepressants, can increase the risk of acid reflux as well. Additionally, consuming a diet high in fatty and acidic foods, such as tomatoes, caffeine, chocolate, and certain spices can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, triggering an acid attack.


To properly diagnose acid reflux, healthcare professionals will likely perform a physical examination, followed by a full assessment of the patient’s overall symptoms and medical history. Afterwards, diagnostic tests will be conducted – these may include an upper endoscopy, esophageal pH monitoring, or an esophageal manometry test to measure the pressure in the esophagus. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a precise diagnosis, as other conditions, such as heart disease, may present similar symptoms.

Medical Treatments

There are several medical treatments available for acid reflux. The most commonly prescribed treatments include:

a. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): These medications reduce the production of stomach acid and provide long-lasting relief.

b. H2 receptor blockers: These drugs reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach, offering short-term relief from symptoms.

c. Antacids: Over-the-counter antacids can provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acid.

d. Prokinetics: These medications help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter and improve the movement of food through the digestive system.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any medication, as they can evaluate the severity of the condition and recommend the most suitable treatment option.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to medical treatments, certain lifestyle changes can help manage acid reflux even further. First and foremost, maintain a healthy weight. Losing excess weight can reduce pressure on the stomach and alleviate symptoms. Be sure to avoid trigger foods and beverages – Identify and avoid foods that are common offenders.

Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Consuming smaller meals throughout the day can help prevent excessive stomach acid production. Also, avoid lying down immediately after eating. Wait at least two to three hours after a meal before lying down or going to bed. Another effective trick is to elevate the head of the bed. Raise the head of the bed by six to eight inches to help prevent acid reflux during sleep.

Self-Help Remedies

In addition to medical treatments and lifestyle changes, there are several self-help remedies that individuals can incorporate into their daily routine to alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Firstly, try to avoid tight-fitting clothing. Wearing loose-fitting clothes can reduce pressure on the stomach. Also, practice stress management techniques, as stress can worsen acid reflux symptoms. Taking up more daily exercise and meditation is very beneficial. Additionally, drink soothing herbal teas like Chamomile, ginger, and licorice root. These can help soothe the digestive system and reduce acid reflux symptoms.

Please note that self-help remedies only provide relief for mild cases. Moderate to severe cases, especially if they’re chronic, require prescribed medication.

Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, it is essential to seek professional medical advice for a correct diagnosis, and to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs. Lastly, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can help prevent potential complications of GERD from occurring.

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