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Acid Reflux is a very common condition where there is backward flow of acid from the stomach to esophagus. Esophagus is commonly called as food pipe and it connects mouth with the stomach. Esophagus carries solids and liquids to stomach. If acid reflux starts occurring very frequently like more than two times a week, then this condition is called as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. In this article there is an explanation about acid reflux, its causes, its symptoms, its management, lifestyle changes as well as Ayurvedic perspective related to acid reflux.
Common causes behind acid reflux disease:
The most common cause behind the problem of acid reflux is described below:
The point where esophagus connects with the stomach there is a sphincter present which is known as lower esophageal sphincter. In normal circumstances the lower esophageal sphincter closes as soon as food passes through it. When this sphincter opens too often or does not close properly, then the acid present in the stomach can move into the esophagus. This failure of lower esophageal sphincter can cause the problem of acid reflux disease.
Other factors which contribute towards the problem of acid reflux disease are:
- Excessive eating of heavy, spicy meals and junk food.
- Irregular eating habits like not eating properly, skipping a meal or taking heavy meals during bed time.
- Lying down immediately after taking food.
- Excessive use of caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, cold drinks and some energy drinks.
- Excessive smoking also leads to the problem of acid reflux disease.
- Excessive use of alcohol.
- Certain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and prednisolone etc. can also increase the problem of acid reflux.
- In pregnant ladies problem of acid reflux is also found.
- Other problems like hiatus hernia where upper part of the stomach bulges or protrudes into the chest also leads to acid reflux.
- Excessive weight or obesity can also contribute towards the problem of acid reflux.
- Other health conditions like Zollinger–Ellison syndrome (ZES), sclerosis and high blood calcium level etc. can also lead to the problem of acid reflux.
How to diagnose acid reflux:
Acid reflux is diagnosed by a qualified physician on the basis of symptoms and after clinical examination.However sometimes the physician may also advise some investigations either to confirm the acid reflux disease or to know about some other problem which is causing acid reflux disease.
The general investigations include endoscopy, esophageal manometry and barium swallow X-ray etc.
How to manage acid reflux:
If the problem of acid reflux is not very severe then it can be prevented. The generalised measures include to manage acid reflux are lifestyle changes and antacids. The ant-acids used to manage acid reflux include ranitidine, omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole and sucralfate etc.
In severe cases where there is no relief from medications, then the physician can advise surgical intervention to correct the problem of acid reflux. The most common surgical procedure used is Nissen fundoplication. Besides this procedure a recent procedure is also there which involves placing a ring called as LINX device through surgery around the lower end of esophagus.
Signs and symptoms of acid reflux:
- Acidic taste in mouth.
- Frequent regurgitation.
- Increased salivation in mouth.
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting.
- Difficulty or pain while swallowing of food.
- Sore throat or coughing may also occur.
Lifestyle changes to manage the problem of acid reflux:
- The most effective thing to avoid symptoms of acid reflux is to refrain yourself from the foods and beverages that trigger or worsen the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Improve your dietary habits like take small frequent meals rather than taking big meals.
- Keep some time gap between your dinner and bedtime. Keep the time gap of at least 2 to 3 hours.
- Chew your food properly.
- Avoid watching tv or laptop while eating.
- Quit smoking and alcohol if you do.
- Keep your head end raised while sleeping.
- Avoid sleeping for long duration in daytime.
- Avoid wearing too tight clothes. Also avoid wearing very tight belts.
- If you are in overweight or obese category then try to lose some weight with the help of exercise and follow a proper diet regimen.
- If acid reflux is due to some medication or some underlying disease then seek medical help immediately rather than taking random medicine. Because taking antacids will help you temporarily. The management of root cause is necessary only then problem will be solved.
- Stress and anxiety also triggers the problem of acid reflux so try not to worry too much. Do breathing exercises like pranayam, anulom vilom to relieve your stress. If condition is out of control then take medical help.
Ayurvedic perspective of acid reflux:
In Ayurvedic textbooks there is description about a disease named as amlapitta. Amlapitta can be correlated with the modern day acid reflux disease.
Causes of amlapitta according to Ayurveda:
- Taking viruddha ahara which is incompatible food combinations according to Ayurveda.
- Eating contaminated foods
- Eating sour foods.
- Taking foods which promotes burning sensation.
- Taking foods and drinks which aggravates Pitta like takra or buttermilk and sura or alcohol etc.
- Eating excessive food.
- All these factors aggravate Pitta dosha and causes the problem of amlapitta.
Signs and symptoms of amlapitta:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Water brash in mouth
- Burps with sour or bitter taste in mouth
- Heaviness in the body
- Burning sensation in throat
Oral Ayurvedic preparations for amlapitta:
- Gudh kushmanda
- Khanda amalaki
- Yawadi kwatha
- Nistusha yavadi kwatha
- Guduchyadi kwatha
- Bhunimbadi kwatha
- Patoladi kwatha
- Kantakaryadi kwatha
- Chitrakadi kwatha
- Eladi churna
- Trikatuadi churna
- Drakshadi gutika
- Abhayadya avaleha
- Khanda pippali avaleha
- Narikela khanda paka
- Gudadi modaka
- Khanda kushmanda
- Madhu pippalyadi yoga
- Pippali ghrita
- Drakshadi ghrita
- Shatavari ghrita
- Mahanarayan ghrita
- Leela vilas rasa
- Rasa amrita
- Suta shekhara rasa
Management of amlapitta according to Ayurveda:
According to Ayurveda following management should be followed to treat amlapitta:
- Vamana or emesis therapy
- Virechana therapy or purgation therapy
- Anuvasana basti or enema with medicated oils
- Asthapana basti or enema with medicated decoctions
Pathya or dietary things that can be taken in amlapitta:
Wheat, barley, green gram, old red rice, drink water which is boiled and then cooled, sugar, honey, sattu (a preparation made from pulses and cereals), bitter gourd, pointed gourd and pomegranate etc. can be taken in amlapitta.
Apathya or things that should be avoided in amlapitta:
Do not hold the urge of vomiting.
Avoid sesame, black gram, horse gram, food items made up of sesame, goat milk fermented liquids, excessive salty, sour and pungent foods, heavy foods, curd and alcohol.