The gastrointestinal tract holds the stomach, where acids are secreted to assist with the process of digesting foods that you eat. Once digested, the food, along with these stomach acids, are emptied into the intestines, where they are further digested, and the body can absorb essential nutrients from the broken-down compounds. In some cases, however, the acids secreted in your stomach, along with other contents located in your stomach, maybe pushed upward toward the esophagus.
If you have experienced a burning sensation in your throat, then you might have had acid reflux in the past. You are not alone, however. A Brazilian study found that the global prevalence of acid reflux may be as high as 11.%. Furthermore, up to 4.6% of the worldwide population experiences acid reflux at least once a week. The same study also found that GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) may affect around 7.3% of the global population. In addition, women were found to be more likely to experience acid reflux than men.
In this post, we consider the most common causes of acid reflux and look at all of the symptoms that the condition may cause. We also consider why you are more likely to experience acid reflux if you are pregnant, and we look at a few scientifically-proven natural remedies that can help you get rid of this unpleasant experience.
What Causes GERD?
We start by considering the potential causes of GERD. When it comes to looking at what causes the condition, it is also important to consider potential triggers. Not everyone will have the same triggers, but some general foods and other substances are known to increase the risk of acid reflux significantly.
The primary cause of GERD is a reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus. Certain structural issues with the stomach and the esophagus can make you much more likely to experience acid reflux. According to some scientific studies, women also seem to be more likely to experience GERD when compared to the occurrence of the condition among men.
The following are all foods that are known to increase the risk of acid reflux significantly, especially among people who frequently experience the condition:
● Foods that are high in fat, such as cheese, avocados, and nuts.
● Spicy foods like curries and chili
● Foods that are high in salt
● Onions, particularly if they are consumed raw
● Whole milk
● Carbonated drinks like diet soda
In addition to these foods and drinks that may all be triggers for acid reflux, it should be noted that scientists found smoking to be yet another risk factor. It was found that smoking causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. In turn, this makes it easier for stomach acids to push up into your esophagus.
Before considering the particular symptoms experienced when suffering from acid reflux, it is important to quickly note that GERD is often a symptom of a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease. The condition is often referred to as GERD for short. Therefore, experiencing symptoms of GERD does not necessarily mean that you have GERD, but it is still something to be taken into consideration.
A burning sensation is the most common symptom that is associated with GERD. The burning sensation is caused by the stomach acids that push into your esophagus. The acids can cause the wall of the esophagus to burn. The burning sensation is usually experienced just behind the breastbone or the sternum.
In addition to the burning sensation, pain is another common symptom that people tend to experience when acid reflux. This is because the upregulation of the stomach acids also causes pain in the esophagus. Some people describe this accompanying symptom as a sharp pain, while others may rather describe it as a spasm-like pain.
The pain may radiate from the lower chest region upward to the throat in some cases. Some people experience a sour taste in their mouths when they have acid reflux, but this is not always the case. When the acids are pushed up toward the larynx, you may also start to cough. Hoarseness has also been noted in cases where the stomach acids reach close to the larynx.
A complication of GERD that may lead to symptoms that we need to take into account here would be tooth decay, caused by the acids pushed upward from the stomach, eating away at the enamel found on your teeth. This can lead to weaker teeth, tooth pain, and other potential dental complications.
GERD And Pregnancy
GERD is an exceptionally common issue among pregnant women. It has been estimated that more than 50% of pregnant women experience severe symptoms of acid reflux. The symptoms tend to be at their worst during the woman’s second trimester.
There are multiple reasons why women are likely to experience severe symptoms of GERD when they are pregnant. First, the changing hormones in their body may cause alterations in the muscles that are located in their stomach and their esophagus. This can make it easier for stomach acids to be pushed into their esophagus. The fact that the uterus becomes enlarged can also add pressure on the stomach, further contributing to acid reflux symptoms.
Women are often concerned about treating the condition due to the safety of their baby, but there are ways to prevent GERD during pregnancy. Some examples of strategies that can be used to at least minimize acid reflux during pregnancy include:
● Clothing should ideally be loose-fitting to avoid excess pressure on the abdominal area
● Laying down after eating can increase the risk – so wait a while
● Eat slower than usual
● Breaking up meals into multiple small ones that span across the day can also help to reduce acid reflux
Natural Ways To Treat GERD
While certain over-the-counter drugs can assist in reducing the effects of GERD, many people prefer to opt for natural methods. First of all, do not drink a glass of milk. While many people believe that milk will soothe acid reflux, it can make things much worse.
Try some of the following strategies to relieve GERD naturally:
● Bananas are considered to be low-acid fruit and are highly recommended to assist in regulating stomach acids and reducing the risk for acid reflux.
● While ginger is known to be especially useful when it comes to naturally treating nausea, as well as vomiting, you might not have known that this natural remedy is also suitable for GERD.
● The fiber content found in oatmeal may help reduce the severity and frequency of acid reflux episodes. Since oatmeal does not contain FODMAPs, it will not contribute to acid reflux but rather mitigate your risk.
● Potatoes have also been shown to reduce the risk of acid reflux.
Acid reflux is a relatively common condition that may affect over 10% of the global population. Understanding the potential causes behind GERD can already help you reduce your risk of experiencing acid reflux. Additionally, there are many natural strategies that you can use to reduce the frequency and intensity of GERD without the need to opt for pharmaceutical products that may come with side effects and expose your body to synthetic chemicals.