Acidreflux is known more colloquially as heartburn and is known medicallyas gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a condition wherebysome of the fluid in the stomach travels back up the esophagus. Thisfluid contains corrosive chemicals made in the stomach, such aspepsin and hydrochloric acid. They cause a burning sensation halfwayup the esophagus, close to where the heart is situated, leading tothe name heartburn. Acid reflux is a very common condition that canaffect anyone at any time, but is increased by certain factors.
Causesof Acid Reflux
Themost common cause of acid reflux and GERD is when the the sphinctermuscle at the lower end of the esophagus is weaker than it shouldbe. This muscle is supposed to seal off the stomach from the esophagus after passing food through, but it cannot close completelyif it is too weak, which allows some of the stomach liquid toregurgitate back into the esophagus.
Pregnancyis also a common cause of heartburn. As the baby grows larger withinthe womb, it starts to press up against the stomach from below,pushing the stomach fluids upwards and increasing the chance thatsome acid will enter the esophagus. While pregnant women shouldalways eat enough to satiate their hunger, consuming less during eachmeal can help reduce acid reflux.
Ahiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach pushes through asmall hole in the diaphragm. This can happen due to a number ofreasons, including vomiting, intense coughing, straining, unexpectedphysical exertion, obesity and pregnancy. Hiatal hernias do notnecessarily cause acid reflux, but the conditions do tend to happensimultaneously and can cause fairly severe irritation and pain whenexperienced together.
Similarly,sufferers of asthma tend to cough quite forcefully, which can causemuch the same effect as a hiatal hernia. Alternatively, asthmamedications can be the cause, since they can relax the sphinctermuscle at the lower end of the esophagus, causing a similar problemto GERD.
Unhealthylifestyle choices can also increase the risk of acid reflux. Peoplewho smoke or drink a lot of alcohol can create problems in their esophagus due to the chemicals present in those substances.Consuming foods high in fat or salt, eating particularly large mealsand eating too much overall can strain the stomach and cause acidreflux. Stimulant substances like caffeine can also cause heartburn.