An acid reflux attack can be a sour experience! Know everything you must

Acid reflux attack symptoms include a burning sensation in your throat and chest, a back flow of sour liquid.
A woman holding her stomach
Acid reflux attack can cause a heartburn as well as abdominal pain. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Updated: 14 Feb 2024, 13:34 pm IST
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Haven’t we all witnessed the dreadful burning sensation in the throat, and even your stomach, after a heavy meal? Sometimes, you even experience a backlash of sour liquid in your mouth. Well, that’s acid reflux for you. Acid reflux is a digestive condition that is caused by stomach acid or bile that can irritate the food pipe lining.

While this may not be a serious condition, things can escalate and become chronic. If this happens very frequently, it can result in GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a condition where stomach acid flows into the tube connecting your mouth and esophagus. Health Shots got in touch with Dr. Abhijit B R, Consultant – Medical Gastroenterology, Aster Whitefield Hospital.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is that burning sensation in your chest, which might even get worse at night. You might also experience some sour backlash of liquid in your mouth, a lump in your throat or chest pain. “Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), happens when the stomach acid goes back up into the tube connecting the throat and stomach, known as the esophagus. This occurs when a ring-like muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) weakens. The result? It can lead to discomfort and irritation in the chest and throat,” explains Dr Abhijit.

A woman with a bowl of chips.
Large meal can lead to acid reflux. Image courtesy: Freepik

An acid reflux or GERD attack is a sudden episode of acid reflux symptoms, like heartburn or regurgitation, resulting from stomach acid irritating the esophageal lining, causing noticeable discomfort.

Also Read: Heartburn during pregnancy is common: Tips for expecting mothers to reduce the risk

What are the symptoms of an acid reflux attack

The following are the symptoms of acid reflux:

1. Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest.
2. Regurgitation: Backflow of stomach contents into the throat.
3. Chest pain: Discomfort or pain in the chest.
4. Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.
5. Sour taste in the mouth: Due to regurgitated stomach acid

What is the difference between heartburn and a heart attack?

Heartburn, a symptom of acid reflux, presents as a burning sensation in the chest and improves with antacids. In contrast, a heart attack involves squeezing pain, pressure, or tightness in the chest, requiring immediate medical attention.

Are GERD and acid reflux the same?

In an acid reflux attack, a person experiences heartburn generally after meals or when they are lying down. This is a mild burning sensation in the mid-chest. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is a more severe form of acid relux. Here there is a backflow of the stomach acid that can actually causes damage to the body. It occurs chronically. When GERD gets severe, there are some surgical procedures available to treat GERD such as Fundoplication as well as LINX reflux management system, where a special device called a LINX is wrapped around the LES. This is a ring made of of tiny magnetic titanium beads and essentially strengthens the sphincter.

Can children have an acid reflux attack?

Yes, children can suffer acid reflux. Acid reflux in infants and kids can often manifest differently than in adults. “In cases relating to children, there are a few red flags to watch out for. The child may exhibit symptoms such as arching of the back during or after feeding, excessive crying, particularly during or after meals, and disturbances in sleep patterns,” says Dr Abhijit. Moreover, recurrent ear infections, a chronic hoarse voice, and sinusitis can also be indicative of acid reflux in this age group.

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1. Frequent spitting up or vomiting.
2. Irritability during or after feeding.
3. Poor weight gain.
4. Coughing or wheezing.
5. Refusing to eat or difficulty swallowing.

Also Read: Is it a heart attack or heartburn? Here’s how to differentiate

What are the causes of acid reflux attacks?

GERD happens with your LES or lower esophageal sphincter does not function properly. The lES is a band of muscles, like a flap, which is placed at the end of the esophagus. When the food it swallowed, it opens and allows it to travel from your mouth to your stomach. Once this is done, it closes again. However, when it doesn’t close properly, that is when acid reflux happens.

A woman with a weighing scale
Poor weight gain is a result of acid reflux. Image courtesy: Freepik

This can happen if you have a condition called Hiatal Hernia, where a part of your stomach moves above your diaphragm. It can also happen if you have very large meals all the time, or if you lie down soon after your meals. Other lifestyle related causes can be excessive smoking, drinking or conditions such as obesity, pregnancy, and age.

What is the treatment for acid reflux attack?

Treatment of acid reflux attack may involve medications like proton pump inhibitors or lifestyle changes. However, there are some rome remedies of acid reflux and GERD which can give you relief:

1. Maintain heathy weight

GERD is more common in obese adults, therefore maintaining your weight can help you deal with it as well. When there is excess weight, especially in the abdomen, can put pressure on the stomach. Due to this, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus.

2. Identify and avoid trigger foods

It is very important to understand the foods that don’t suit you. These foods and drinks can increase acid reflux. Foods such as tomato sauce, citrus fruits, caffeine and chocolate should be avoided.

3. Avoid large meals and lying down after eating

You must try to take smaller meals as this will put less pressure on the stomach. This will also reduce the number of calories you take in and will help with heartburn too. Also, don’t lie down after a meal, as this can lead to heartburn.

4. Elevate your head while sleeping

When your head is slightly elevated, then, due to gravity, the stomach acid is prevented from backflow. It cannot enter the esophagus.

5. Herbal remedies

There are certain herbal teas that can be tried out to treat GERD. Chamomile tea is great for acid reflux. Other than this, licorice and marshmallow also helps with GERD.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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