Acid reflux is a disorder in which a patient's stomach sphincter does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to flow upward into the esophagus. This typically irritates the esophagus and causes the common medical condition known as heartburn. If a person has acid reflux at least twice a week, then they have acid reflux disease.
Other symptoms of acid reflux disease include regurgitation of acid into the mouth, bloating, stools that are bloody or black, extreme burping, recurring hiccups, nausea or bloody vomiting, weight loss, or a chronic sore throat.
There can be many different causes of acid reflux, including eating too much, lying down after eating, obesity, snacking before bed, smoking, or pregnancy. What a person eats can also cause acid reflux. Some of the foods and drinks that can cause acid reflux include tomatoes, chocolate, garlic, onions, citrus, greasy foods, alcohol, carbonated drinks, tea, and coffee.
One of the most common causes of acid reflux disease is a stomach defect known as a hiatal hernia. With a hiatal hernia, the top part of a patient's stomach moves past the diaphragm, allowing acid to move more easily into the esophagus.
There are many different treatments for acid reflux, including diet and lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery. To use diet and lifestyle changes to stop acid reflux, patients should eat smaller meals more often throughout the day, lose weight, quit smoking, avoid tight clothing, and avoid lying down after eating.
Medications can also minimize the effects of acid reflux by neutralizing the acid in a person's stomach, coat a person's stomach to prevent reflux, decreasing acid production or strengthening the stomach sphincter. If none of these solutions help, then a doctor may perform surgery to alter the stomach to prevent reflux.
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