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What Causes Acid Reflux?

Posted Tuesday 02 June 2020 12:00 by in Acid Reflux by Harman Bhamra

Do you experience heartburn - a burning pain in your lower chest area? If you do, then there’s a big chance that you are suffering from acid reflux.

What causes acid reflux? There are several reasons why acid reflux come all of a sudden. Within this guide, we will discuss these causes in detail to help you relieve pain and get back on track.

What’s In The Entrance Of Your Stomach?

There is a valve at the entrance of your stomach called the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring of muscle that shuts as soon as the food passes through it. However, there are times that the LES doesn’t close right away or completely. This causes some of your stomach acid to move up into your oesophagus, causing heartburn. Sometimes, the acid can even reach the back of your throat, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.

Heartburn is normal and can happen every now and then. However, if you experience heartburn more than twice a week, then you may be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as acid reflux.

What Causes Acid Reflux All Of A Sudden?

Acid reflux is triggered by several factors. Here are some of the common causes of acid reflux:

1. Food

Laying down after a meal or eating too much can trigger acid reflux. It can also be caused by foods and beverages like:

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spicy foods
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Food with tomato (i.e. pizza, salsa, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, etc.)
  • Alcohol

2. Smoking

Studies show that smoking may also contribute to acid reflux. Smoking damages mucus membranes in the throat, increasing acid secretion and impairing the production of saliva which helps neutralize acidity in the mouth and oesophagus. Smoking can also reduce LES function.

3. Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is one of the most common causes of acid reflux disease.

A hiatal hernia is a form of stomach abnormality where the top part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm. Aside from helping you breathe, the diaphragm also acts as a barrier between your stomach and your chest. It helps keep the acid in your stomach. However, if you have hiatal hernia, the diaphragm will have a hard time containing the acid.

4. Pregnancy

Several women who have not yet experienced GERD before suddenly experience acid reflux during pregnancy. But why? According to doctors, this is caused by the pressure from the growing fetus and increasing hormone levels. Usually, the symptoms are at its worst during the third trimester. Pregnancy-related acid reflux usually goes away after giving birth.

5. Other Factors

Aside from the reasons above, being overweight, snacking close to bedtime, and taking certain medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, blood pressure treatments, and muscle relaxers can also trigger acid reflux.

The weather can affect acid reflux, too. Acid reflux symptoms worsen in winter because we tend to be less physically active. The cuddle weather also straps us to the sofa - making acid reflux more likely to occur, especially if you have just eaten your favourite comfort food.

Can Acid Reflux Be Caused By Stress?

Is acid reflux connected to stress or anxiety? GERD and anxiety may look completely unrelated to each other but studies suggest that there may be a link between the two.

A 2015 study found that the negative effect of acid reflux symptoms in your life increases with anxiety and stress. Experts believe that stress makes you more sensitive to chest pain and other symptoms of acid reflux disease.

How Do You Stop Acid Reflux?

The most common acid reflux treatment is Omeprazole. Omeprazole relieves the symptoms of acid reflux by reducing the amount of acid produced by your stomach. This widely used GERD treatment comes in capsules, tablets, or made to order liquids.

Omeprazole is usually taken once a day, first thing in the morning. You can take it without food because it doesn’t upset your stomach. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you more information about the dosage that’s right for you. You can also buy Omeprazole right here at Express Pharmacy.

These simple lifestyle changes can also help prevent acid reflux:

  • Avoid eating large meals. Instead, eat small, frequent meals.
  • If possible, avoid certain foods, beverages, and medications that could trigger acid reflux.
  • When sleeping, make sure that your chest and head is above the level of your waist. This will prevent your stomach acid from moving up when you sleep. You can do this by raising one end of your bed with a pillow.

The Most Common Acid Reflux Symptoms

Posted Monday 24 February 2020 11:02 by in Acid Reflux by Harman Bhamra

Acid reflux, more commonly known as heartburn, is the leading gut complaint seen by medical professionals. Around 25% of UK adults suffer from acid reflux symptoms regularly.

How do you know when you are suffering from acid reflux? What are the most common acid reflux symptoms to look out for? All will be revealed in this helpful guide.

What is Acid Reflux?

Your lower oesophagus sphincter is the muscle that joins your oesophagus (food pipe) and your stomach. The role of this muscle is to tighten the pipe once food passes into the stomach, but if yours is weak, acid may result in travelling back up the oesophagus. When stomach acid travels up your oesophagus, it can cause an unpleasant sensation in your upper chest/neck/throat.

This is known as acid reflux.

Don’t be alarmed when we say that you have acid inside you - the acid in your stomach helps to break down the food you eat, as well as preventing infections. It’s meant to stay in the stomach, which is why problems occur when it gets unintentionally released.

Common Acid Reflux Symptoms

Heartburn

The most common symptom of acid reflux is a painful sensation in your upper chest, known as heartburn. This pain can often be described as a sharp, burning or tightening feeling in the neck, throat or chest (behind the breastbone).

Regurgitation

Acid travelling up into your oesophagus can also lead to an unpleasant taste in the back of your throat or mouth. This bitter/sour or metallic taste in your mouth is caused by your stomach acid escaping into your throat and isn't easy to shake, often lasting just as long as other symptoms and can persist even after eating, drinking or brushing your teeth.

Dysphagia

Acid reflux can cause you to feel as though you have food stuck in your throat. Dysphagia refers to having difficulty swallowing and can cause coughing and sometimes choking. The leaking of your stomach acid into your oesophagus can cause this sensation and lead you to feel nauseous, as well as give you a hoarse voice.

Hiccups

Your diaphragm muscle can spasm, causing your vocal cords to snap shut and produce a little reoccurring sound; this is known as the hiccup. Acid reflux can lead to recurrent hiccups that just won't go away.

Hiccups are little cause for concern as they can be brought on by eating too quickly, drinking too much or taking in too much air, and often subside on their own. But, in the case of acid reflux, hiccups could be an indication of a more serious diagnosis, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Severe Acid Reflux Symptoms

GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a severe form of acid reflux. The pain from this disease cannot be remedied as easily as regular heartburn and long-term damages can cause serious health issues, such as cancer.

GERD has the same symptoms as acid reflux, but due to its severity, it also has some of its own that can be a cause for concern...

Enamel Damage

Due to the excessive exposure of acid which occurs during GERD, your tooth enamel may get damaged.

The enamel on your teeth is there to protect them from decay. Continuous acid reflux can cause the outer layer of your enamel to degrade, meaning it’s important to take precautions such as brushing your teeth after experiencing an episode.

Asthma

One possible symptom of GERD is that the escaping stomach acid will damage your throat lining and lung airways. In a worst-case scenario, GERD sufferers may end up with airways narrower than the average person, resulting in asthma.

Asthma refers to a difficulty breathing which can cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

How To Treat Acid Reflux

It's all well and good knowing what to expect if you were to experience acid reflux, but how do you treat it? Acid reflux treatment can vary from home remedies to specialised medication.

Home Remedies

If you aren't a frequent sufferer of acid reflux, home remedies may be effective.

Ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be added to tea or recipes to help ease pain caused by heartburn.

Fibre

Having oatmeal for breakfast, or adding a good source of fibre to your diet, can reduce your exposure to suffering from acid reflux. Other strong fibre sources include whole-grain products, such as rice or bread.

Medical Treatments

Those that regularly suffer from acid reflux symptoms may require a more concrete solution. There are different acid reflux medications available to those who need more serious help.

Omeprazole

Omeprazole is a reliable medication which treats more serious symptoms associated with GERD by decreasing the amount of acid your stomach produces. Express Pharmacy offers Omeprazole 20mg to help you manage your suffering; the medication is simply administered by swallowing the tablet before eating.

Lansoprazole

Lansoprazole is another effective medical treatment to treat GERD and other stomach acid-related conditions. Our Lansoprazole 15mg tablets are to be swallowed with a glass of water at the same time each day. For best results, it is recommended to take Lansoprazole first thing in the morning.

For more information regarding the symptoms of acid reflux, get in touch with our pharmaceutical experts on 0208 123 0703. We will be able to help you make an informed decision on what treatment is most suitable.


Top 6 Foods Known for Causing Heartburn

Posted Friday 24 January 2020 08:45 by in Acid Reflux by Harman Bhamra

Heartburn is an extremely common condition which affects up to 25% of UK adults regularly. The symptoms of heartburn can cause extreme amounts of discomfort and disrupt everyday life.

What Is Acid Reflux/Heartburn?

Heartburn is a fairly painful burning sensation which forms in your lower chest. It is caused by acid reflux - acid reflux is when stomach acid is forced up into your oesophagus (the pipe in which your food/drink travels down from your mouth to your stomach). This is not usually possible as your sphincter acts as a barrier to avoid this acid escaping, so when it does happen, heartburn takes place.

Usually, unless you burp or swallow, your sphincter stays shut. Those that suffer from acid reflux often have a weakened sphincter and so it opens on other occasions and allows acid to get out, leading to heartburn.

Top 6 Foods Known For Causing Heartburn

Diet is the number one culprit for heartburn as many foods can cause your sphincter to relax, allowing those pesky acids and foods to escape into the oesophagus. But what foods are best to avoid when trying to prevent heartburn?

Here are the top 6 foods that have been linked to heartburn, and if you suffer from acid reflux, you should steer clear of them!

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is likely to be the last thing you wanted to read on this list, but unfortunately, it is a common trigger of heartburn. The cocoa in the chocolate can increase serotonin levels, which can relax your sphincter and allow acid to sneak up your oesophagus; you don’t want that!

As well as boosting serotonin, chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine. Now we all know what caffeine is, but theobromine is a bitter compound that is found in cocoa and is therefore in chocolate. Both of these can also stimulate your sphincter to relax. Yet another reason to avoid chocolate!

A tiny bit of chocolate will unlikely affect you, but if you do suffer from acid reflux, avoid dark chocolate at all costs. Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa.

2. Spicy Foods

Put that takeaway menu back in the draw! Curry, chilli or any spicy foods are infamous causes of heartburn as more often than not they contain capsaicin which has been known to slow digestion rate.

As well as digestion issues, capsaicin is a compound that irritates tissue it comes into contact with and so can inflame your oesophagus, worsening heartburn. And so, it is best to take a step back from anything with a kick.

3. Onions

As well as saving you from bad breath, excluding raw onions from your diet will help you to reduce heartburn. Much like other foods, onions can cause you to burp/belch frequently which, as we know, opens your sphincter and could allow acid to escape in the process.

Burping/belching is caused as onions are rich in fermentable fibre, which exasperates acid reflux symptoms. Beans and legumes are also sources of this fibre and so it is also best to limit intake of those as well.

4. Mint

Unlike other foods, mint does not lead to heartburn through relaxing the sphincter. Instead, mint has been known to irritate the oesophagus lining.

It was often thought that mint helped digestion but has since been linked to the opposite. Peppermint tea and other forms of mint are putting those that consume them at a higher risk, so best to avoid it, just to be on the safe side.

5. Fatty Foods

Foods that have high-fat content are a risk to multiple aspects of your health and acid reflux is no exception. And we’re not just talking about fast-food or unhealthy snacks. Healthier produce such as avocados, cheese and nuts all have high-fat content, too!

These fatty foods can lead to the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which relaxes your sphincter and causes food to sit in your stomach for longer than usual. This also increases the risk of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

6. Salt

Again, salt has a bad reputation when it comes to your health. Adding salt as a seasoning to your meals or eating foods that have a high salt content can boost the chances of you experiencing acid reflux symptoms by 50%. With such a high figure, it’s best to limit your intake.

Common Acid Reflux Symptoms

It’s all well and good to advise you on what food to avoid when preventing acid reflux, but how do you know if you suffer?

Common acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Heartburn: as previously mentioned, this is the most common symptom and is a burning feeling that occurs in your lower chest, abdomen or throat
  • Regurgitation: when stomach acid escapes through your sphincter and causes a sour/bitter taste of acid in your throat or mouth
  • Dysphagia: this is the sensation of feeling as though you have food stuck in your throat
  • Hiccups
  • Burping/belching
  • Nausea

How To Stop Heartburn

There may be many foods which cause problems, but luckily, there are also a few that can stop heartburn from occurring.

  • Ginger: this is often used to relieve nausea. It can also help reduce symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn
  • Green Vegetables are low in fat, acid and sugar and have been proved to prevent pain and discomfort

These natural remedies can be helpful, but when battling acid reflux regularly, it’s wise to seek medical treatment.

Treatments For Acid Reflux

Express Pharmacy has a multitude of acid reflux and heartburn treatments which are guaranteed to provide long-term relief and prevention. The two most popular treatments for acid reflux can be found below:

Omeprazole is an effective and established medication for treating acid reflux; it helps to decrease the amount of acid your stomach is producing. As well as this, Omeprazole helps to repair acid damage to your stomach and oesophagus which, if left, could result in stomach ulcers or oesophagus cancer.

Lansoprazole is another type of medication Express Pharmacy sells to treat stomach and oesophagus problems, such as acid reflux. Lansoprazole also decreases the amount of acid your stomach is making while relieving symptoms such as heartburn, coughing and swallowing difficulty.

For more information regarding effective treatments for acid reflux, speak to our team on 0208 123 0703.


The Most Important Meal of the Day: Can Oatmeal in the Morning Cure Acid Reflux?

Posted Friday 27 December 2019 09:22 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

Acid reflux can easily put a dampener on your festivities, but certain foods could make a significant difference

Acid reflux is a condition which impacts huge numbers of people across the UK and around the world. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere between 10 and 20% of the UK population suffer from regular incidents of acid reflux.[1]

But what you eat can determine the severity of your symptoms. From oatmeal to onions, we’re going to take a look at some of the foods that can commonly impact the condition, for better or worse.

What is acid reflux?

When stomach acid travels up towards the throat, it can create an unpleasant burning sensation, resulting in both heartburn and acid reflux. This can leave a nasty taste and can even cause pain. When acid reflux occurs frequently, it is known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.[2]

There are several factors which make acid reflux more likely to occur, including certain foods, smoking, heavy alcohol use, pregnancy, smoking and genetics.[3]

Can oatmeal reduce acid reflux symptoms?

We all know that breakfast in the most important meal of the day, but for acid reflux sufferers it can be even more vital. Healthy breakfast options like oatmeal and porridge have been shown to help relieve the symptoms associated with acid reflux, including the unpleasant taste and burning pain.

Oatmeal is a whole grain and therefore is high in fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and movement. What’s more, oatmeal can help to absorb acid in the stomach and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.

Oatmeal is also high in selenium, which can help to coat and protect the oesophagus from painful acids.[4]

Foods to help your acid reflux

There are many foods out there which are thought to act as triggers for heartburn and acid reflux symptoms, increasing your discomfort. These include:

- Spicy foods like curries

- Citrus fruits and juices

- Garlic and onions

- Mint

- Caffeine

- Fried foods with high levels of fat[5]

However, other foods are thought to help reduce your symptoms of acid reflux, rather than aggravating them.

Fresh, cool, creamy and mild foods can help ease the intensity and frequency of your acid reflux. Switch up your diet to include higher quantities of foods like fresh tomato, cucumber, basil, low-fat yoghurts, eggs, fruit and nuts, wholegrain bread and lunchtime salads with chicken or beans.[6]

Treating acid reflux

Changing your dietary habits can be a helpful way of managing your acid reflux symptoms, but there are also other things you can do alongside these changes, such as seeking out safe and effective acid reflux medication.

Omeprazole is one such treatment; the generic alternative to branded medications like Losec and Prilosec. In clinical trials, Omeprazole has been found to be significantly effective in relieving acid reflux symptoms in chronic sufferers.[7]

You can find safe and effective acid reflux medication right here at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Dent, J. et al. Epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2005

[2] NHS UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. 2018

[3] SCOPE. Dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: investigation and management of dyspepsia, symptoms suggestive of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or both. National Institute of Clinical Excellence. 2012

[4] National Institute of Health. Selenium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2019

[5] Rennie. Heartburn triggers. 2016

[6] Harvard Health Publishing. What to eat when you have chronic heartburn. Harvard University. 2019

[7] Richter, JE. et al. Efficacy of omeprazole for the treatment of symptomatic acid reflux disease without esophagitis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2000

Tags: Acid Reflux

Why Are Some of Your Favourite Food and Drinks Causing Your Acid Reflux?

Posted Tuesday 10 December 2019 09:53 by in Acid Reflux by Tim Deakin

To some of us, heartburn can feel unavoidable, but the things you eat and drink can play a significant role in the severity of your symptoms

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GORD or – more commonly – acid reflux and heartburn, is a common condition in the UK. In fact, it’s estimated by charity Guts that 25% of all UK adults are living with regular heartburn.[1]

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a significant connection between the severity of your acid reflux and the food and drink you consume. Some of your favourite foods and beverages could be contributing to your symptoms. Here are some of the most common culprits.

Spicy foods

Spicy foods are considered to be among the most common heartburn triggers, due to the fact that many of them contain a compound called capsaicin, which is thought to slow the rate of digestion. Because of this, food sits in the stomach for longer, which increases the risk of heartburn.

Studies have revealed the risks of consuming spicy foods for heartburn sufferers. One Australian study found that consuming foods rich in chilli powder decreased the rate of digestion.[2]

High-fat foods

Like spicy foods, fatty foods have been shown to increase the likelihood of acid reflux symptoms occurring, but in a very different way.

Fatty foods can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to escape from the stomach into the oesophagus and cause acid reflux.[3]

What’s more, foods that are high in fat can also encourage the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). This has also been shown to relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux.[4]

Citrus juice

Although it is not entirely clear how it occurs, multiple studies have shown that citrus juices like orange juice and grapefruit juice can act as a trigger for heartburn symptoms.

For example, one Korean study found that 67% of 382 of heartburn sufferers experienced worse symptoms after drinking orange juice.[5] In another study, 73% of people suffered acid reflux after drinking citrus juice.[6]

Alcohol

It’s December, which means many of us will be enjoying more than our average intake of alcohol over the coming weeks. However, for acid reflux sufferers, this can spell increased symptoms.

Like fatty foods, alcohol has been shown to relax the lower oesophageal symptoms, which can trigger heartburn. [7] But as well as this, studies have shown that drinking significant quantities of wine and beer can actually increase the amount of stomach acid in your body, making heartburn more likely to occur.[8]

Coffee

Research into the relationship between coffee and acid reflux is largely ongoing, with some studies concluding that there is no link between the two factors, while others suggest that coffee can be a trigger.

For example, one 1980 study found that, like alcohol and fatty foods, coffee can potentially relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and make acid reflux more likely to occur.[9]

When it comes to drinking coffee, it really depends on your own personal experience. If you find that you can enjoy coffee without experiencing heartburn, there’s no reason to avoid it completely.

Changing your dietary habits can help to tackle your acid reflux symptoms. You can also invest in safe and effective acid reflux medication, available here at Express Pharmacy. Contact one of our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet live chat service.

[1] Guts UK. Heartburn and Acid Reflux. 2019

[2] Horowitz, M. et al. The effect of chilli on gastrointestinal transit. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology. 1992

[3] Holloway, RH. et al. Effect of intraduodenal fat on lower oesophageal sphincter function and gastro-oesophageal reflux. Gut. 1997

[4] Ledeboer, M. et al. Effect of cholecystokinin on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure and transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations in humans. Gut. 1995

[5] Kim, YK. et al. The relationship between the popular beverages in Korea and reported postprandial heartburn. Korean Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010

[6] Feldman, M. et al. Relationships between the acidity and osmolality of popular beverages and reported postprandial heartburn. Gastroenterology. 1995

[7] Chen, SH. et al. Is alcohol consumption associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease? Journal of Zhejiang University, Science. 2010

[8] Chari, S. et al. Alcohol and gastric acid secretion in humans. Gut. 1993

[9] Thomas, FB. et al. Inhibitory effect of coffee on lower oesophageal sphincter pressure. Gastroenterology. 1980