There is a valve that is located right at the entrance of your stomach; this valve is known as the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. Under normal circumstances this valve opens, allowing food to enter. However, in some cases the LES will either fail to close back up or it may open a bit too slowly. If this occurs, stomach acid is allowed to enter up into the esophageal area, causing what is known as heartburn. This can happen to anyone at any time. But if it happens too frequently it may be acid reflux disease.
Why Does Acid Reflux Disease Occur?
There are a few different causes of acid reflux disease. One of the most common causes is a Hiatal hernia. This is actually a defect that causes the upper area of the stomach and the LES to move up above the diaphragm, causing it to basically protrude. When this happens, stomach acid will get into the esophagus and diaphragm. Another cause could be overall poor health, excessive alcohol consumption. Improper digestion based on a poor diet or frequently eating spicy, irritating foods. Sometimes being out of shape or obese can contribute to this disease. Even eating too close to the time you are getting ready to lie down for the night can bring on acid reflux disease.
How to Differentiate Between Acid Reflux Disease and Regular Heartburn
As mentioned earlier, anyone can get heartburn after eating a meal that does not particularly agree with them, for whatever reason. However, when this becomes a chronic problem and starts to happen more than once or twice a week, there is definitely cause for concern. The best way to tell the difference between regular heartburn and acid reflux diseases is to pay attention to how often it is happening, the time of day and whether or not over the counter remedies bring long terms relief. With acid reflux disease the only thing that is going to help is a long acting medication. Your run of the mill antacids will not help but for a little while.
Burning Sensation in Upper Stomach and Chest Pains
One of the most common complaints among people suffering from acid reflux is, of course, heartburn. This is a feeling as though there is something very hot travelling up your esophagus and into your throat. This can be quite painful and often comes on just after a belch. In some cases people with this condition become so frightened at the level of chest pain that they think they are suffering from a heart attack. Unfortunately, it also works the other way around and some people who are truly having heart attacks think they have heartburn.
Chronic Cough- Especially in the Morning
Some people who suffer from acid reflux disease notice that they cough a lot in the morning. They often do not understand why they are coughing so much. They only know that for some reason morning tends to bring on a terrible bout of coughing that feels almost as if there is a frog in their throat. This happens because the acid has burned the upper part of the esophagus and is actually causing what is very similar to an itch in the throat. This is another very common symptom of acid reflux disease.
Acid reflux disease, once diagnosed properly is a very easily treated condition. There are many home remedies such as apple cider vinegar and baking soda that people use to treat the excess acid. However, typically there is a long acting antacid such as Prevacid or Zantac prescribed. This is usually taken online once a day and will ward off undesirable symptoms for the entire day. In some rare cases a surgical procedure to repair the Hiatal hernia, if that is the cause, may be required.