acid reflux

Unlike occasional heartburn than affects many after a spicy meal or too much alcohol, acid reflux disease is chronic and reoccurring. Most patients that suffer from repeated attacks of liquid splashing up from the stomach and into the esophagus, usually keep these symptoms for life. Understanding what causes acid reflux and how to prevent it can save you from a very uncomfortable and possibly, deadly disease.

Many people have been led to believe that acid reflux is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. This would be a sensible explanation for living a life of smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and enjoying greasy fried foods. However, medical specialists have discovered that there are a number of contributing factors, some that have nothing to do with a harmful lifestyle.

Function of the LES

The LES, or lower esophageal sphincter, has been found to be an important clue in controlling acid reflux. Located at the base of the esophagus and at the opening of the stomach, the LES is a circular muscle that contracts and expands on a routine basis. It is normally in a closed position unless food or mucus is traveling down the narrow esophagus muscle where it opens to allow ingredients to empty into the stomach. Tests have proven that in many acid reflux sufferers, this muscle has been found to be under performing in closing properly. The muscle also appears less rigid and flexible as found in a healthy LES. Because of this relaxed nature, fluid from the stomach is able to escape through the LES, causing irritation from the strong acid stomach liquids.

Hiatal Hernia Diagnosis

A hiatal hernia is a hernia that forms above the stomach and protrudes like a sack between the LES and the stomach or more precise, above the diaphragm. This sack changes the pressure needed for the LES to function properly and stay closed when needed. This hernia can also store stomach acid that has flushed up from the stomach and more readily move into the esophagus.

It is almost impossible to perform regular duties when suffering from acid reflux. In addition to an overwhelming heartburn, vomit can become present in the esophagus and throat. If this condition is not diagnosed and treated with medication to protect the lining of the esophagus, more serious acid reflux conditions can evolve. Acid reflux disease can be caused by unhealthy living but more times than not, is the result of an abnormality in the gastrointestinal region.

Smoking can help deteriorate the lining of the esophagus leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Eating heavy meals close to bedtime is asking for trouble in keeping the LES strong and capable of performing its job. Food lying on the stomach while in a flat position tickles the LES until it has no choice but to open and spill its contents. This type of behavior is believed to add to the breakdown of keeping this important muscle strong. Stress and worry are also contributing factors as these can cause a higher acid content. If you have heartburn that has become consistent and seems to be worsening, visit your medical specialist so an evaluation and proper treatment can be established.

acid reflux
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