If you frequently suffer from heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux, cures and treatments are something that you often look for. Acid reflux is caused by stomach acid, or food, backing up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation after eating. This can happen because the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus does not close properly, or because of added pressure on the abdomen from pregnancy or obesity.
One of the first steps to take to cure acid reflux is to make lifestyle changes. Avoid foods that act as triggers for your acid reflux. These can include spicy foods, chocolate, acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes, fried foods and alcohol. Stop smoking, and lose weight if needed. Eating smaller meals, more frequently can lessen the symptoms of acid reflux.
If lifestyle changes are not enough to cure your acid reflux, the next step is to take medication. Common over the counter medications include antacids, or foaming agents. Antacids use a combination of salts to neutralize the acid in your stomach, foaming agents work by covering your stomach lining with foam to prevent reflux.
Another type of medication is called H2 blockers. These are available in both over the counter and prescription strength. These medications provide short-term treatment for the symptoms of acid reflux. They work by blocking the amount of acid that is produced in the stomach.
Other widely used medications include proton pump inhibitors, which works more effectively than H2 blockers, and prokinetics which help the stomach empty faster. Your health care professional can determine if any of these medications is right to cure your acid reflux.
In some cases, lifestyle changes and medication are not enough to control acid reflux. The next step in acid reflux treatment is to have some medical tests to diagnose the problem. Your physician may order a barium swallow. This is an x-ray test that will show any abnormalities, such as a hiatal hernia or ulceration. Another common test is an upper endoscopy. This is a more accurate test than a barium swallow. The doctor inserts a tiny flexible tube down your throat. This tube has a tiny camera on the end, so the doctor can see the surface of the esophagus, and spot any abnormalities. The doctor can see if there is any damage to the lining of the esophagus, and he may also take a sample of the cells from the lining by inserting a tiny set of tweezers down the tube.
Although it is rare to have surgical treatment for acid reflux, for some it is a reasonable alternative to a lifetime of discomfort. Surgical treatments involve procedures that strengthen the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus to cure acid reflux.
Acid reflux cures and treatments depend on how long you have had your symptoms, and how severe they are. It is important to seek the advice of a medical professional if you suffer from acid reflux more than three times per week, as it could signal a more serious condition.