Learn about the causes of Acid Reflux & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Acid Reflux within New Zealand.
Acid reflux, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), occurs when acid from the stomach leaks back up into the gullet (oesophagus). Someone who develops acid reflux or GORD may suffer with the condition for the rest of their life but treatment is available to manage the symptoms. Acid reflux symptoms commonly include a burning sensation in the chest (known as heartburn), sore throat, belching and occasional hoarseness or breathing difficulties.
Causes Of Acid Reflux
The main cause of acid reflux is a weakened muscle at the lower end of
the oesophagus where it meets the stomach (known as the lower
oesophageal sphincter, or LOS). The LOS opens to allow food to pass
through to the stomach and then closes to prevent stomach acid leaking
out. When this sphincter doesn't close tightly enough, acid enters the
oesophagus. The oesophagus can cope with small amounts of acid, but it
doesn't have protective cells lining its walls (as with the stomach)
and therefore acid causes inflammation and pain (this is known as
heartburn). An inflamed oesophagus leads to a condition known as
Acid reflux can also be caused by excessive pressure being placed on the stomach (through being overweight, poor posture or tight clothing). If the stomach takes longer than usual to remove stomach acid, this can also lead to GORD. Foods such as caffeine, chocolate and alcohol can relax the oesophageal sphincter and lead to acid reflux as can smoking.
Certain medications, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers and benzodiazepines (i.e. diazepam), can make acid reflux symptoms worse by relaxing the LOS. A Hiatus Hernia can also cause acid reflux - this is a condition where a small part of the stomach lining pushes through the diaphragm. Stress has also been linked to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux
There are two main symptoms that define acid reflux disease. The first
is heartburn which manifests itself as a burning feeling in the chest.
This can start in the lower abdomen (stomach) and rise into the chest
and onwards into the neck.
The second main symptom is acid regurgitating into the throat and mouth. This can lead to a sour taste and a sore throat which can make the voice sound hoarse. Symptoms of acid reflux are typically worse after a large meal or during the night, particularly if you sleep lying flat as acid can make its way into the oesophagus more easily.
Chronic and severe acid reflux can lead to other conditions such as Barrett's oesophagus, asthma or increase the risks of oesophageal cancer.
There is no cure for acid reflux and severe cases may require surgery to tighten the sphincter. However, for the majority of people acid reflux requires an effective management program. Relief from symptoms of acid reflux can be found from lifestyle changes, dietary changes, conventional and non-conventional therapies.
For most people, a visit to your GP will be enough to diagnose acid
reflux disease (gastro-oesophageal disease) as they can evaluate your
condition by asking about your symptoms.
Acid reflux disease can be confirmed by way of an endoscopy. Endoscopies are carried out by inserting a small flexible tube into the throat which passes down through the gullet and into the stomach. At the end of the tube is a camera and light source so the doctor can identify if the lining of the oesophagus has been damaged by acid. An endoscopy will also identify if the sphincter is not closing properly and rule out any other serious conditions like stomach cancer.
An endoscopy is typically carried out during an out-patient appointment while you are awake. If you are particularly distressed by the test a sedative can be given to help you relax. An endoscopy does not take very long and is a safe procedure but it can feel strange and uncomfortable.
Natural Health Options:
Clinical practice shows that Buteyko is effective for a wide range of breathing disorders including acid reflux as many common health issues can be linked to incorrect breathing. Buteyko is a clinically proven technique that delivers immediate and sustained relief from breathing-related problems. It is drug free and can be practised by children and adults.
The Buteyko breathing technique has been the subject of eight published studies and is endorsed by the British Guideline on the Management of Asthma 2008.