In its mildest form, acid reflux creates a lot of discomfort for an individual. However, if it develops into a disease, acid reflux can create more extreme complications. Acid reflux usually happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle does not work properly. This particular muscle is responsible for opening and closing of the stomach to keep stomach acid down. However, when this muscle is not doing its job, stomach acids escape, traveling up (or regurgitating) back up into the esophagus and throat, creating a burning sensation in the chest called heartburn.
Common causes and facts about acid reflux include:
1. Hiatal hernia
A hiatal hernia can make a person develop acid reflux because it forces the LES and upper stomach to move above a person’s diaphragm. The diaphragm also plays an important role with keeping acid inside of our stomach. Remember that a hernia happens anytime one part of our body pushes into another part where it should not be. When a person has a hiatal hernia their stomach bulges up through their hiatal opening and pushes into their chest. Once again, this condition leads to acid reflux.
2. Heartburn can mimic a heart attack
One of the most troubling side effects of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is it’s eerily similar symptoms to a heart attack. As a matter of fact, a lot of people who experience this condition often believe they are having a heart attack. Doctors strongly recommend that people experiencing problems with GERD have these symptoms checked out to determine if it is problems resulting from the cardiovascular system. Acid reflux medications can usually take care of this problem.
3. Cancer development
About 5% of people with acid reflux will develop cancer from this condition. Cancer develops because a person’s stomach acid causes changes to the cells within the esophagus over time. It should also be noted that people with Barrett’s esophagus will only have a 1% chance of developing this condition. By the way Barrett’s esophagus are abnormal cells (potentially cancerous) that develops from acid reflux.
4. Prevalence of acid reflux
There are many things that can contribute to acid reflux. People can develop this condition by having an abnormal stomach, through the process of pregnancy, by smoking which damages a person’s throat and/or stomach, drinking alcohol, eating certain foods and being overweight. People can also get this condition by eating right before they go to bed and by taking certain medications. A person can use acid reflux medications to alleviate these problems.