Acid reflux is a condition that causes heartburn, a burning feeling in the chest or throat. Reflux happens when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.
This can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, including heartburn and regurgitation. We explain the symptoms and other related issues in detail on this page: https://www.andrea-digestive-clinic.com/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease/.
Why Acid Reflux Happens
Different people have different reasons for having acid reflux. However, there are a few things that most experts agree on as being the main culprits:
- Fatigue or sleeping pills: Lying flat makes stomach contents come closer to the esophagus, which may lead to heartburn.
- Eating large meals: More stomach acid is needed to digest your meal properly, which can lead to heartburn if too much comes up into the esophagus. Eating smaller meals more often will reduce the amount of time that stomach acid levels are high.
- Hiatal hernia: This is when part of the stomach squeezes through an opening in the diaphragm muscle in the chest area (near the heart). This can cause reflux.
- Some medications, such as calcium channel blockers, can cause reflux.
- Frequent heartburn: If you frequently have acid reflux, it may be because your esophageal sphincter is weakened or doesn’t close properly to prevent stomach contents from coming into the esophagus.
- Smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol: They can increase your esophageal acid exposure.
- Certain foods: Some experts believe that spicy, fatty, acidic, and fried foods can worsen heartburn symptoms.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus (hiatal hernia) to help with food flow during pregnancy. This reflux is most likely temporary.
As you might expect, some of the best ways to prevent acid reflux are to avoid some of the activities listed above! For example, if you feel like you’re more likely to develop acid reflux after a meal, try eating smaller portions instead of a big plate of spaghetti.
Or, if you feel like acid reflux flares up when you’re about to drift off into dreamland, have a chat with your doctor about ways to stop it from happening. Taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors can help with acid reflux in Singapore but should be used only occasionally for short periods because long-term use can result in serious complications such as osteoporosis and Clostridium difficile infections.
Moreover, excessive caffeine intake is thought to contribute to increased gastroesophageal reflux. One should also avoid foods that trigger acid reflux. These include chocolate, peppermint, coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated), and soda, greasy, fried, or spicy foods.
Does Acid Reflux go away on its Own?
One of the most common questions we get about acid reflux in Singapore is if the condition can go away on its own. Now, there are instances when acid reflux goes away on its own.
But sometimes, acid reflux can be a chronic condition that even your best efforts to get relief won’t seem to get rid of it. These cases are called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD is a long-term condition in which the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach isn’t tight enough, and stomach contents leak back up into the esophagus.
The refluxed acid irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes GERD. If you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux and treated it before, you may now be dealing with GERD.
In addition to stopping smoking or reducing alcohol consumption, exercising regularly can help reduce your risk for GERD by strengthening abdominal muscles and making the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus stronger. This will make it easier for your stomach contents to go down rather than up into your throat! Also, increasing calcium intake is thought to improve LES function as well because calcium strengthens sphincter muscles that keep stomach acids from seeping into the esophagus.
Finally, losing weight may also be recommended if you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux in Singapore. Losing weight can reduce the amount of abdominal pressure that’s placed on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter muscles, which in turn may lead to a reduction in acid reflux symptoms.
When to See a Gastroenterologist (GI Doctor) for Acid Reflux
It may be slightly challenging to know when your symptoms for acid reflux in Singapore are severe enough to warrant a GI doctor’s attention. Nonetheless, there are essential pointers that should be indicative that the time could be right to talk to your GI doctor. These symptoms include:
- Your symptoms are severe enough that they interfere with your everyday life activities.
- You have developed anemia due to blood loss caused by frequent vomiting associated with acid reflux.
- Your symptoms are persistent after following the GERD diet, including lifestyle modifications and taking over-the-counter antacids or proton pump inhibitors twice a day for two weeks.
- You experience heartburn episodes that vary in frequency or intensity.
- You have more than two heartburn attacks per week and have gastroesophageal reflux disease or throat clearing symptoms.
- You can’t explain how you’ve lost weight.
How a GI Doctor can help with Acid reflux
Though acid reflux can sometimes go away on its own, it’s important to meet a doctor when you’re experiencing any of the symptoms just mentioned to be able to get rid of acid reflux in Singapore and GERD in their tracks. For example, a persistent sore throat that doesn’t go away even after you’ve taken over-the-counter medications for a week isn’t normal, so it warrants having an appointment with your doctor.
In addition, if you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux and given medications, you should come back for follow-up appointments so your doctor can monitor the progress of your illness. When booked for acid reflux in Singapore, a GI doctor will first carry out a thorough physical examination to establish the root cause of your acid reflux.
If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, your GI doctor will help you manage and eventually manage acid reflux through medication as well as lifestyle changes. The goal is usually to minimize or completely eliminate any avoidance of trigger foods, alcohol consumption, and smoking so that the reduced pressure on the stomach’s sphincter can alleviate your acid reflux symptoms.
If you have trouble tolerating medications for heartburn due to long-term use, your doctor may recommend surgery to treat GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is usually performed using minimally invasive techniques.
Endoscopy is a type of treatment option if you think your acid reflux keeps coming back even though you’ve tried antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and histamine blockers. This procedure involves an instrument that’s inserted into the esophagus to take pictures of the inside lining for proper diagnosis. If visible damage is found to be causing your acid reflux, a number of surgical procedures may be suggested to repair it, depending on the extent of the damage.
If you’re suffering from acid reflux in Singapore or GERD, don’t delay in seeing your doctor. The goal is usually to eliminate your heartburn and acid reflux symptoms as quickly as possible by using medications that are safe for long-term use.
Andrea’s Digestive Clinic – Colon, Liver, Gallbladder, GERD/Acid Reflux Specialist
#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena 101 Irrawaddy Rd, Singapore 329565
+65 6264 2836