What Causes Acid Reflux?
We all can experience a little bit of acid reflux if we eat a big meal and then immediately bend over, or lie down flat on our back afterward and then all of a sudden feel that acid coming back up our throat; especially if we just finished a large meal that contained foods high in fat, had lots of acid in them or were very spicy. There are several causes for acid reflux.
Individuals may experience acid reflux because they have a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter muscles which are the ones responsible for closing and opening at the lower end of the esophagus and preventing food from the stomach from coming back up the esophagus.
If these muscles weaken, the lower esophageal sphincter muscles cannot close properly and food that should be emptying into the stomach can come back up.
Acid from the stomach may also come up with the food that has started to be mixed in the stomach causing the sensation of burning as it comes back up into the esophagus.
There are several factors that can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter such as certain dietary substances, certain drugs, and also nervous system factors.
Studies have been done on those with acid reflux that show over half of individuals with acid reflux to have some sort of stomach abnormality with the nerve or muscle function within the stomach contributing to the experience of acid reflux.
The esophagus can also have abnormalities that contribute to acid reflux in fact one study found that 73% of those with acid reflux had atypical symptoms that suggest abnormalities of the esophagus.
One problem specific to the esophagus’s function is that of experiencing motility abnormalities. There is a spontaneous muscle action called “peristalsis” that occurs in the esophagus that helps to move the food down the esophagus and into the stomach. Researchers are not certain if the problem with motility causes the acid reflux or the other way around but what is clear is that is does happen that individuals have this motility abnormality and acid reflux at the same time.
The causes of acid reflux all tend to focus around the process our bodies go through in order to take in food, pass the food from the mouth through the throat and esophagus and into the stomach and the ability for the body to keep the food from back out of the stomach and back into the esophagus and throat. There are both common and less common causes for the occurrence of acid reflux.
Individuals concerned about acid reflux can keep a journal of what experiences they have with it including what foods or activities seem to cause it and the sensations that they feel at the times that they experience the acid reflux. A medical doctor can then use the journal along with your medical history of medicines being used, other symptom history and disease history as well as a physical examination or testing in order to arrive at a diagnosis.
Once a doctor has determined the presence of and cause of your acid reflux a treatment plan can be formulated. As is the case in most conditions and diseases the cause or causes are important to an effective treatment plan.
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