What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux, sometimes called heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest which is caused by the acid in your stomach travelling up your oesophagus into your throat.
If you continuously experience heartburn and acid reflux, you may have something called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
What are the effects on the body?
The symptoms of acid reflux are unpleasant and may become worse if you lie down or bend over. They can also worsen after you eat. Symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Heartburn – the burning sensation in your chest
- A bad taste in your throat or mouth. This is caused by your stomach acid
- Bloating or feeling sick
- Bad breath
What are the causes of acid reflux?
Acid reflux is experienced by many people, often sporadically. There aren’t any obvious reasons why they do. However, it can be made worse or experienced more frequently if:
- You eat a certain food or drink. Common examples are coffee, alcohol, fatty or spicy foods
- You are overweight or obese
- You are a smoker
- You are regularly stressed or anxious
Some medicines, like anti-inflammatory painkillers have also been linked to acid reflux and pregnant women can often have it more regularly than usual. There is also a condition called a hiatus hernia, when part of your stomach moves up into your chest that causes acid reflux.
Treatments and relief
You may be able to significantly reduce how often you get acid reflux by:
- Eating smaller meals
- Losing weight by adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly
- Avoiding foods that you have linked to your symptoms
When you are having problems with acid reflux it may help to:
- Raise your bed so that you sleep with your chest and head above your waist. This will help the stomach acid to stay down
- See your GP to see if any prescription medicine would be suitable for you
If your symptoms worsen or you believe you may have gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, you can have tests to find out what’s happening in your throat and stomach. A gastroscopy may be undertaken, where a thin tube with a camera at one end is passed down your throat. You can also have an operation to prevent acid reflux. This is known as a laparoscopic fundoplication.
The information in this article is intended as general advice only. If you or your family members require medical advice or have any medical concerns, please contact your GP.
Please note that not all conditions discussed above are covered by a CSH plan. For more information on what is covered please visit our FAQ page or speak to one of our friendly sales advisers on 0800 917 4325^