What Is Acid Reflux? The Complete Guide

Acid reflux – also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – is a common condition
that occurs when acid from the stomach moves up towards the oesophagus and the throat,
which causes a burning feeling known as heartburn and a sour taste in your mouth. In this
article, we will look at what causes it, the symptoms, the risk factors, and what you can do to
manage and treat it.

What Is Acid Reflux?

Our stomachs contain a certain amount of acid to aid in digestion. Your stomach lining is
protected from stomach acid, but your throat is not. If the valve which allows food down into
your stomach fails, acid from your stomach can flow out up and into the oesophagus and throat,
which causes acid reflux. It is often confused with heartburn, as heartburn is one of the
symptoms of acid reflux.

Acid Reflux Symptoms

If you have acid reflux, you may notice the following symptoms:

● A bad taste in your mouth: This is caused by the acid that has travelled up your throat.
It can also cause bad breath.
● Heartburn: The lining of your throat is not protected from your stomach acid, so the acid
causes a burning feeling.
● Feeling sick or bloated.
● Hiccups: When your oesophagus is reacting to the stomach acid, it may cause hiccups.
● Feeling hoarse: Acidic contents can travel up the esophagus and flow into the larynx
(voice box) or pharynx (throat) which causes inflammation, resulting in hoarseness.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

Many of the most common causes of acid reflux come down to what you are eating and
drinking. Having a large meal can exacerbate symptoms, especially if you eat close to bedtime.
Some people find that certain foods and drinks can trigger acid reflux.

However, there are other reasons why you may be suffering from it, including a hiatal hernia.
This happens when the top of your stomach pushes through the LOS muscle (low oesophageal
sphincter), which is the ring at the entrance to your stomach. When this occurs, your diaphragm
does not function properly, and acid from your stomach can evacuate.

Acid Reflux Risk Factors

Acid reflux can affect people of all ages and of all different lifestyles, but there are some lifestyle
factors that can put you at greater risk, such as:

● If you are obese or overweight
● If you do not exercise enough
● If you smoke
● If you take certain medication such as blood pressure medications, aspirin, ibuprofen,
and some muscle relaxers

Potential trigger foods include:

● Garlic
● Onions
● Tomatoes
● Chocolate
● Citrus
● Anything spicy or fatty

Similarly, alcohol, tea, coffee, and fizzy drinks can be risk factors. You may also suffer from acid
reflux more if you are pregnant.

Acid Reflux Vs GORD

While some people use the acronym GORD to describe acid reflux, it is actually a more serious
form of the condition. The difference is that where acid reflux can be a one-off instance, GORD
(which stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a chronic illness. It can occur when the
LES muscle is weakened and not able to do its job properly, allowing acid to get into the
oesophagus regularly. Because it happens so often, the symptoms can be more severe and
more painful.

Complications Of Acid Reflux Disease

Your acid reflux may become GERD, or acid reflux disease, if you do not take steps to address
the issue, seek treatment or make some lifestyle changes. The longer that you leave the issue
untreated, the more complications it may end up causing. Because the acid is entering your
oesophagus more regularly, it is going to do more damage as time goes on. This can lead to
conditions such as oesophageal ulcers, a scarred and narrowed oesophagus, and oesophageal

Acid Reflux Diagnosis

There are several different tests that your doctor can do to diagnose acid reflux. The most
common is an endoscopy. With this test, a doctor will insert a long tube with a camera attached
down your throat, allowing them to see if there are any issues in your oesophagus. Don’t worry;
you will be given a sedative and anaesthetic to ensure that it is smooth and painless. Your
doctor will also take a medical history to discuss any previous symptoms and to see if there are
any factors that could be contributing to acid reflux, and they will give you a physical
examination as well.

What Helps Acid Reflux?

The best approach to helping acid reflux depends on how severe the condition is. In a lot of
cases, acid reflux can be treated and managed by making lifestyle changes and some simple
medication, such as:

● Eating a balanced diet
● Avoiding trigger foods
● Maintaining a healthy weight
● Exercise regularly
● Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake

When it comes to medications, you can talk to a pharmacist about antacids and alginates, which
can ease the symptoms. You should take these either with your food or soon after you have

Acid Reflux Treatment

If you have found that taking over-the-counter medication and making lifestyle changes has not
helped with your acid reflux, then you should talk to a specialist for help, such as Mr Achal
at Private Surgeon Milton Keynes. He can talk to you about the best next steps to treat
your acid reflux.

Your doctor may recommend taking proton pump inhibitor medication (PPI), which include
omeprazole or lansoprazole. These medications are generally prescribed for courses between
four to eight weeks, and the length will depend on how severe the condition is. They may decide
that giving you a long-term prescription is the best way forward, but in serious cases, they may
decide to conduct further tests or perform an operation.

A laparoscopy is a keyhole surgery procedure that can stop acid from leaving the stomach up
the oesophagus. Remember, treatment will vary depending on your specific case, and it is
always better to discuss it with a professional.

Get In Touch

There are many different reasons why you may be suffering from acid reflux, and the issue can
vary greatly in its severity. The good news is that there is a wide range of different treatments
available to help you with the symptoms of acid reflux. At Private Surgeon Milton Keynes, we
can diagnose the issue and get to the bottom of what is causing it.

We can advise you on the best course of treatment, whether that is an over-the-counter
medication, PPIs, or surgery, and we can talk you through every step of the treatment journey. If
you have any questions at all about acid reflux or if you are worried about any symptoms that
you are experiencing, get in touch today.