Function of the esophagus and the stomach
Esophagus is the channel through which food that we swallow passes into the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus is a circular muscle that serves as a valve (a sphincter muscle) and seals off the stomach from the esophagus. In normal circumstances, this muscle is contracted at all times and loosens only when we swallow food or drink water (or when we vomit). In any other case, the sphincter is closed and contents of the stomach remain in the stomach, unable to travel back up in the esophagus and towards the mouth.
Digestion of the food begins in the stomach, which secretes a powerful acid that speeds up the digestion process. This acid is known as hydrochloric acid or stomach acid. Lining of the stomach is acid-resistant and is not damaged or bothered by the extreme acidity of the stomach content. Surplus acid is neutralized once the food from the stomach moves into intestines.If the sphincter fails
For various reasons, the sphincter muscle we mentioned does not work as it should, and stomach contents can move back into the esophagus through the weakened valve. As noted, this content is highly acidic, and the bad news is that the lining of the esophagus is not able to withstand acid. It becomes damaged, and possible results are inflammation or tissue damage that results in bleeding. Affected person will also experience pain from the irritated esophagus. This condition is called the acid reflux disease
Causes of acid reflux
Some common causes of this condition are hiatal hernia (a stomach abnormality where a part of the stomach can "pop" through the hole in the diaphragm), excess weight, pregnancy, or some bad habits such as eating late or just before bedtime, overeating or eating of heavy meals, excess drinking of coffee, alcohol or fizzy drinks, eating or drinking foods that are acidic or that stimulate secretion of stomach acid, and similar.
Although a visit to the doctor is recommended, you can follow these advices to deal with the acid reflux.
You should avoid chocolate and pasta, citrus fruits or citrus fruits drinks, peppermint, food with high level of fat, as well as dairy products. Also avoid alcoholic and caffeine - rich beverages. Acid reflux symptoms can be eased by eating bananas, pineapples, almonds or papaya before bedtime. Eat less, and try to eat more often but with smaller servings. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Also, do your best to loose excess weight, and consult a specialist about permanent changes in your dietary habits.