Acid reflux occurs when acidic stomach contents rise up into the esophagus. When acid repeatedly “refluxes” from the stomach into the esophagus alone, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
However, if the stomach acid travels up the esophagus and spills into the throat or voice box (called the pharynx/larynx), it is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). This is due to the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter is a ring of muscle between your esophagus and stomach that should close after food passes.
In GERD, the muscle does not fully close allowing food and stomach acid to move back up into the esophagus. You will usually have symptoms of heartburn, the acid in the back of your mouth, cough, and chest pains. If left untreated it can cause complications of esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophagus stricture.
If you live San Diego or Orange County and suffer from acid reflux contact San Diego Ear Nose & Throat Specialists today to schedule an appointment
Many people can relieve their symptoms by changing their habits and lifestyle. The following steps, if followed, may reduce your reflux significantly.
- Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime. This allows your stomach to empty and acid production to decrease.
- Don’t lie down right after eating at any time of the day.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches with blocks. Gravity helps prevent reflux.
- Don’t eat large meals. Eating a lot of food at one time increases the amount of acid needed to digest it. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
- Avoid fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, mints or mint-flavored foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomato-based foods.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the likelihood that acid from your stomach will back up.
- Stop smoking. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter and increases reflux.
Talk to your health care provider about taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or medications for osteoporosis. These can aggravate symptoms of reflux.