Acid Reflux in Northwest Arkansas

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When we eat food or drink liquids, they travel through the esophagus and into the stomach. Between these two organs is a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle opens and closes, permitting the passage of food into the stomach.

Each of us has stomach acid to help digest the food we consume. Unfortunately, if our lower esophageal sphincter fails to close completely, it may allow some of that acid to migrate backward and up into the esophagus, possibly doing harm and/or leading to long-term acid reflux. This is what we experience as "heartburn" from acid reflux due to the fact that the acid causes the sensation of burning. At GI Alliance of Arkansas, our board-certified GI doctors routinely treat acid reflux and are able to help alleviate heartburn and related symptoms. If you need to find a doctor who offers acid reflux treatment in Arkansas, reach out to our practice today.

While acid reflux is a widespread condition, there is no single, primary root that we're aware of. There are a number of components that could contribute to a weakening of the LES and could then allow stomach acid to flow in reverse into the digestive tract. Acid reflux could be instigated by a number of medications, foods, pre-existing conditions, or some activities after consumption of food. Differing factors could impact a patient's acid reflux in unique ways. A few frequent causes of acid reflux might include:

  • Hiatal hernia
  • Peppermint, chocolate, raw onions, garlic, black pepper, tomatoes, citrus fruits
  • Being or becoming pregnant
  • Spicy or fatty foods
  • Eating a heavy meal then lying down
  • Consuming caffeine
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Consumption of alcohol (red wine in particular)
  • A weak or compromised LES
  • Being a smoker
  • Specific medications (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, and those for blood pressure)
  • Sparkling beverages

Acid reflux is very often referred to as heartburn, but heartburn is really a term used to describe the sensation caused by acid reflux. Common symptoms of acid reflux can include:

  • The feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Dysphagia
  • Bloating
  • Chest pain

In the case that you are dealing with any of these symptoms on a regular basis, then it is possible that you could suffer from a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If this is the case, please contact a GI Alliance of Arkansas gastroenterologist at your earliest convenience.

When it comes to relieving acid reflux, the best, most effective way is to reach out to a board-certified GI specialist in Arkansas. However, there are also some lifestyle changes that can be implemented that could help lessen the frequency and severity of symptoms. These can include (but are not limited) to:

  • Sleeping at an incline with your feet lower than your head
  • Disclosing to your GI physician about current medications you are taking
  • Consistently standing or sitting upright after eating
  • Eating in moderation and at a slow speed
  • Not eating for, at minimum, 120 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Limiting your caffeine intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • (If overweight), losing extra weight
  • Avoiding "trigger" foods and beverages

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The majority of adults have felt the burning sensation caused by acid reflux at some time in their lives. However, GERD is the more serious and chronic variety of acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is commonly diagnosed when one suffers from acid reflux more than twice per week along with swelling in the esophagus. If you are having the symptoms of acid reflux more than twice a week, please talk with a GI doctor at your earliest opportunity.

If you regularly suffer discomfort from heartburn or other symptoms associated with acid reflux, then please reach out to a GI doctor. The skilled physicians at GI Alliance of Arkansas work to educate and help patients with gastrointestinal concerns such as acid reflux and GERD. If you believe you may suffer from GERD or need help for acid reflux in Arkansas, reach out to our office today to arrange a visit.

When should you see a GI specialist for acid reflux?

You reach out to a GI doctor if you experience acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week, as this could be a sign you are encountering GERD. Gastrointestinal reflux disease is a more severe form of acid reflux that can damage your upper digestive tract without proper care. The providers at GI Alliance of Arkansas can review your acid reflux symptoms and determine a diagnosis. We can also help you distinguish triggers of acid reflux to help you minimize the effects of the condition.

How long might it take acid reflux to improve after treatment begins?

Acid reflux treatment often comprises a mix of medication and changes in diet. Once you discover the proper treatment program, it can take up to three weeks before your symptoms begin to improve and you notice results.

Should you avoid certain foods and drinks if you have acid reflux?

Certain drinks and food can contribute to or amplify the symptoms of acid reflux. Common items you may want to stay away from if you suffer from acid reflux include:

  • Alcohol
  • Greasy foods
  • Peppermint
  • Foods high in fat
  • Carbonated and caffeinated drinks (such as soda, seltzer, coffee, and tea)
  • Spicy foods
Are there ways to relieve acid reflux in addition to medication?

Acid reflux may be managed with over-the-counter and prescription medications. However, you might also try other options to help relieve symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Avoid the use of cigarettes or other tobacco products.
  • Do not go to sleep as soon as you finish dinner. It can be helpful to avoid eating for three hours prior to laying down for bed so the acid will stay in the stomach as opposed to regurgitating.
  • If you are a person who is overweight, consider a weight loss program. Your doctor can help you create a plan tailored to your goals and needs.
  • Consume several smaller meals throughout the day rather than eating three standard meals. This often helps to avoid becoming overly full, which may increase the effects of reflux.

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