What is reflux?
With reflux, or heartburn, there's a burning sensation behind the sternum. This is caused by gastric acid, the acid in the stomach, which goes outside the stomach, back into the esophagus and irritates the lining of the esophagus.
There are several risk factors for getting reflux:
- Overeating or binge-eating
What are symptoms of reflux?
- Nagging pain behind the sternum with:
- Lying down
- Increased salivation
- Pain swallowing
- Hoarse voice
Is reflux serious and should I see a doctor
Reflux or heartburn is irritation of the inside of the esophagus and usually isn't dangerous. Everybody once in a while has some heartburn after a large or very fatty meal and this isn't dangerous. It is important to treat reflux if it occurs more often or for longer periods of time.
Contact a doctor:
- The symptoms occur more than once a week
- When the symptoms persist, despite treatment
- Severe abdominal or chest pain
- Vomiting blood
- Trouble swallowing
- Food that won't go down
- Quit smoking
- Raising the head of the bead
- Using over the counter antacids.
- Eating 4 or 5 small meals, instead of 3 large meals
- Hot drinks
- Citrus fruits
- Carbonated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Eating less than 3 hours before going to bed
Immediately contact a doctor:
What can I do about reflux myself?
How does reflux affect my body?
With reflux gastric acid goes outside the stomach, back into the esophagus. The stomach produces very caustic acid to break down your food, so it can be digested. To protect the stomach from this acid it has a protective lining, the esophagus doesn’t have such a protective lining. When gastric acid enters the esophagus it irritates the lining of the esophagus. This causes a nagging pain and a bloated feeling.
In general there are two types of drugs used for treating reflux: antacids and drugs that decrease the production of gastric acid. Antacid neutralize the acid and are over the counter drugs, often available at drug stores and supermarkets.