Over 60 million Americans experience acid reflux each month and more than 15 million Americans experience symptoms each day. Symptoms can vary, but most commonly people experience: chest or stomach pain, burning at the back of your throat, coughing, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitating sour or acidic tasting fluid.
Have you experienced problems with acid reflux? At Prime IV, we havetreatment options that may alleviate some symptoms!
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is diagnosed when it happens more than twice a week. This condition occurs when the acidic content of the stomach flows up to the esophagus and into the gullet, moving food into the mouth. While some people might refer to acid reflux as “heartburn,” the heart is not involved with this disease.
Your stomach contains hydrochloric acid that breaks down food and protects your intestinal tract from bacteria. The gastroesophageal sphincter acts as a valve to allow food into the stomach but stops it from going back up the esophagus. When the valve fails, the contents of the stomach are regurgitated into the esophagus, causing the symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn.
Acid reflux can affect people of all ages. This condition results from a lifestyle factor in most cases, but it can be caused by other factors that the individual could not prevent. One cause of acid reflux that is not preventable is a hernia. This condition creates a hole in the diaphragm that allows the upper stomach to enter the chest cavity, leading to acid reflux.
Some other risk factors include:
Dietary habits and particular foods are also linked to acid reflux, including:
Low dietary fiber diets
High intake of salt
Eating large meals
Consuming acidic juices, carbonated drinks, and consuming chocolate
Lying down after eating
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Acid Reflux Symptoms
In many cases, acid reflux will produce heartburn, an uncomfortable burning sensation that a person can feel in the breastbone and esophagus. When an individual bends over or lies down, the feeling can worsen. These symptoms can last for a few hours, worsening after consuming food.
The heartburn pain can often move up towards the throat and neck area. In some individuals, the stomach fluid can reach the back of the throat, producing a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
Dry, persistent cough
Throat problems, such as hoarseness, laryngitis, and soreness
Chest or upper abdominal pain
Pain when swallowing
Complications and Risk
Without treatment, frequent acid reflux can lead to severe problems for a patient. It is not only a painful condition, but acid reflux can increase the risk of cancer. When the esophagus is continuously exposed to stomach acid, it can become damaged. There are other serious complications stemming from acid reflux, such as:
Strictures: the stomach acid causes damage that can lead to scar tissue development and create difficulties swallowing. Often, food will even become stuck in the esophagus.
Esophagitis: the lining of the esophagus will become inflamed, causing bleeding, irritation, and ulceration in many cases.
Barrett’s esophagus: a severe complication can occur when there is repeated exposure to stomach acid, causing changes in the tissues and cells. In extreme situations, those affected cells can develop into cancer.
Barrett’s esophagus and esophagitis do carry a higher risk of cancer.
It is common for some women to experience some type of heartburn during pregnancy. In the United States, it is estimated that 30 to 50 percentof women will suffer from this condition. Lifestyle changes during pregnancy can help with the symptoms, such as consuming small meals or not eating late at night. Any treatment options for pregnant women should be discussed with a doctor.
Diagnosing Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is easy to diagnose. However, these conditions can be confused with other chest conditions, including pneumonia, chest wall pain, a pulmonary embolism, as well as a heart attack.
While occasion acid reflux is normal, consistent symptoms will need to be diagnosed by a medical provider. Some symptoms can be alleviated with acid reflux medication or lifestyle changes.
A medical provider can order a series of tests to diagnose acid reflux, such as:
Biopsy: taking a tissue sample for analysis
Endoscopy: camera imaging
Esophageal manometry: pressure measurement of the esophagus
Barium X-ray: imaging of the stomach, upper duodenum, and esophagus after the patient has swallowed a chalky liquid
pH monitoring: acidity testing
Impedance monitoring: measuring the rate of fluid movement in the esophagus
While these changes can help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux, they are not always the solutions for many individuals. These symptoms could lessen but never completely go away. With that in mind, individuals might have to seek other forms of treatment, including:
PPIs, including esomeprazole, omeprazole,and rabeprazole
H2 blockers, including famotidine and cimetidine
Over-the-counter medicines, such as antacids
Alginate drugs, including Gaviscon
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The most common treatment options for those who experience acid reflux are the use of H2 blockers or PPIs, which are both medications. These treatment options will decrease the production of acid, reducing the potential for damage that can be caused by acid reflux.
While these medications are safe and effective, they are still prescription drugs. Like most prescription drugs, there is always a risk for complications or serious side effects. For example, these prescription drugs can cause issues with absorbing nutrients, leading to malnutrition.
There are over-the-counter (OTC) remedies for those who experience indigestion or heartburn, primarily when those issues are related to drinking and food triggers. These OTC treatment options can reduce the acidity of the stomach, providing relief for the individuals.
Most of the OTC treatments will include antacids. These medications provide short-term but rapid relief of symptoms. They reduce the acidity of the stomach. These OTC options include the following chemical compounds: aluminum, sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, and magnesium hydroxide.
They can also inhibit the absorption of nutrients, leading to deficiencies in the patient. While many of the treatment options will offer quick relief, they can cause nutritional problems.
There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat these symptoms, but they can be accompanied by some serious side effects including:
Low magnesium levels
Vitamin B-12 deficiencies
Inflammation of the stomach lining
Fortunately, there is an alternative to medication for managing acid reflux symptoms. Multiple studies have identified a relationship between select vitamins and reducing or eliminating acid reflux symptoms. The best part is, while these vitamins relieve the pain and discomfort of acid reflux, they are also free of major side effects. The most effective vitamins for fighting acid reflux are:
How To Boost Your Vitamin Intake
There are several ways to increase the amount of vitamins you are taking in each day—like eating vitamin-rich foods or taking supplements. Simple lifestyle and diet changes may be all you need to address acid reflex symptoms. The downside is that this approach is that it’s only as effective as your stomach’s ability to absorb the nutrients. Sometimes you need an extra boost to get over the hump. That’s where Prime IV comes in.
To streamline vitamin intake, many people are turning to IV drips to maximize absorption and effectiveness. Prime IV offers several vitamin-rich IV drips specifically crafted to maximize the health benefits of vitamins via 100% absorption. By skipping the digestive tract, these IVs are also much quicker and can saturate your blood with vitamins in less than an hour.
If you’re struggling with acid reflux symptoms, or just want to improve your general health and wellness, book an appointment at Prime IV today!