Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.
With obesity being one of causes of acid reflux, anyone making their way through a weight loss journey should be able to recognize the symptoms. Note that most symptoms can occur anywhere between immediately after eating until many hours later, and in some cases, symptoms can be chronic.
- “Burning” throat or abdominal pain, also called heartburn
- Dry coughing
- Bad breath and dental erosion
Many Americans suffer from heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux, but it’s when the symptoms occur more than twice weekly that they are said to be suffering from GERD.
There are a variety of tests that physicians can perform to help diagnose GERD. The most common are:
- Upper GI Series: Essentially an X-ray of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
- Upper Endoscopy: A thin tube with a camera and light at the end are placed down the patient’s upper gastrointestinal tract in order to visualize the esophagus.
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: A small tube is passed down the patient’s esophagus. It monitors all liquid and acid that comes back up into the esophagus.
- Esophageal Manometry: This test lasts about an hour and consists of a tube placed down the patient’s throat before having them swallow. The tube measures at several places how well the esophagus functions.
Luckily, many aspects of treatment for GERD coincide with weight loss and wellness programs, and if you’ve already begun healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible you’re already seeing reductions in GERD symptoms.
Some such lifestyle changes include
- Losing weight. Keep to a healthy diet high in protein and low in fat and be active for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Avoiding foods known to trigger your personal acid reflux, such as fried foods or foods with high acidic content.
- Quitting smoking and staying away from second-hand smoke.
- Remaining standing for three hours after eating.
In addition, over-the-counter and doctor prescribed medicine, such as antacids and antibiotics, have been known to help treat the symptoms of acid reflux. Consult your doctor or weight loss professional if you’re suffering from the symptoms of GERD.