What is Acid reflux?
Acid reflux is a common problem, with 60% of people suffering from it at some point in a 12-month period. However, it can be very uncomfortable and lead to unwanted and unpleasant physical manifestations, such as bad breath and chest pain.
Heartburn is the feeling you experience when stomach acid travels up from the stomach and towards your throat (acid reflux). It happens when there is excess acid in your stomach, which can be very painful. If it is not treated properly, it can create ulcers and erode the lining of your throat. As for what causes acid reflux, it is normally the result of eating specific foods.
The stomach entrance, called the sphincter muscle, is designed to open in order to allow food to pass into your stomach and then close again. However, sometimes it does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to escape into your throat. The problem may also be that it opens too often, causing the same issue. This is usually triggered by meats that are high in fat, foods that are fried or greasy, milk, caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.
Acid Reflux Symptoms and Warning Signs
The most common acid reflux symptoms are:
- A burning sensation in the centre of your chest (heartburn)
- A bad, sour taste in your mouth (this is caused by stomach acid)
- Bad breath
- Bloating and feeling sick (nausea)
- A hoarse voice
- Recurring cough or hiccups
A sign that these are acid reflux symptoms is that they will be worse after you have eaten, when you bend over or when you lie down.
To rule out any more serious conditions you may have as a result of these warning signs, and to receive a suitable form of treatment for your problem, you should visit a doctor if your symptoms persist.
What causes Acid Reflux?
The single most common cause of acid reflux is diet and food consumption. For many individuals, different types of food will trigger the symptoms of acid reflux, most commonly alcohol and fatty fried foods.
However, acid reflux can also be triggered by a number of different things such as:
- Diet – particularly spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and fatty processed foods
- Medications that wear away the stomach lining such as anti-inflammatory painkillers like Naproxen and Ibuprofen
- Other more serious medical conditions such as a hiatus hernia, caused when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
Alternatively, the cause of acid reflux may be an imbalance of stomach acid and the protective mucous that counteracts it, or having a weak sphincter muscle. Being overweight, and therefore having a higher level of pressure on your stomach can also cause acid reflux, as the sphincter muscle is forced open after eating. Individuals suffering from heartburn are advised to adapt their diet and consume food that can help with acid reflux as a first point of call before using prescribed medication for the condition.
How is Acid Reflux diagnosed?
If you keep getting heartburn or other signs of acid reflux, a pharmacist will be able to give you advice. Various medicines known as antacids can help with heartburn/acid reflux.
Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose acid reflux based on your medical history and after a physical exam. They may recommend certain tests to confirm your acid reflux condition.
If medicines do not prove to be effective, a doctor may refer you for tests like a gastroscopy, where a camera is passed down your throat. This will help them to assess what is causing your symptoms.
If you think you do have acid reflux and are looking for how to get rid of heartburn, fill out a Medicine Direct health questionnaire. This will be passed to one of our doctors, who will assess your symptoms and prescribe the right course of treatment for you. You can then buy acid reflux medication at Medicine Direct's online pharmacy.
Acid Reflux Treatment
You may be able to treat your heartburn by making changes to your diet and the way you eat. You could try eating smaller but more frequent meals, losing weight if necessary and raising your bed at night so your chest and head are above the height of your stomach. Some people report acid reflux occurring more when they are stressed, so it could be beneficial to find activities or routines that help you to relax and de-stress.
While making these lifestyle changes, be sure to eat well in advance of going to bed (at least 3 or 4 hours) and avoid foods that you believe are triggering your acid reflux and heartburn. Do not smoke or drink too much alcohol and ensure that you wear clothes that are comfortable around your waist and stomach.
If these steps do not help, you may need a type of medication called antacids. These work to reduce the amount of stomach acid your body makes. Antacids can be bought without a prescription, although they should only be used in the short term.
To ease acid reflux, your GP may choose to prescribe proton pump inhibitors which can provide effective relief for some of the painful symptoms caused by acid reflux. Proton pump inhibitors work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces and as a result ease the symptoms of acid reflux. Omeprazole and Lansoprazole are probably the most widely prescribed acid reflux medications.
What Medicine Direct can offer for acid reflux
Medicine Direct offers a variety of heartburn remedies and acid reflux medication. These include the commonly prescribed Lansoprazole, Omeprazole and Pantoprazole, which work by reducing the amount of acid your stomach makes. In doing so, it effectively reduces painful heartburn symptoms caused by excessive acid.
You can also speak with a doctor to discuss the best type and dosage of heartburn medication for your symptoms. One of our certified doctors will prescribe you the medication they deem the most appropriate to treat your symptoms. You can then order this medicine from our online pharmacy; order online by 2pm and we can offer you next day delivery.
Is acid reflux common?
What can make acid reflux worse?
Certain things may make acid reflux worse, including:
- Eating large meals
- Eating late at night
- Eating within two hours of going to bed
- Being pregnant
- Obesity or being overweight
- Eating spicy food
- Wearing tight clothing
- Certain medications
To lessen the impact and likeliness of experiencing acid reflux again, you should try to lead a healthier lifestyle.
This includes cutting down on how much alcohol you drink, stopping smoking, drinking less coffee, trying to lower your stress levels wherever possible and losing weight (if required).
Do I need to see a doctor for acid reflux?
Most of the symptoms of heartburn/acid reflux can be treated by visiting your pharmacist for over the counter medication.
If you experience any of the following issues, you should make an appointment to see a doctor:
- Your symptoms are getting worse
- You are getting these symptoms a few times in the same week
- You are being sick and/or there is vomit in your blood
- You are finding it hard to swallow
- You have tried a medicine from a pharmacy or over the counter and it has not worked
If any of the above apply to you, you should see a doctor to make sure that your symptoms are not a result of a more serious condition. They will be able to rule out any other problems you may have and also prescribe a suitable medicine to ease your discomfort.
How do I choose the right treatment for acid reflux?
Most people who suffer from this condition will be recommended an antacid medicine, such as Rennie or Tums. This medication neutralises the stomach acid, relieving your symptoms. These medicines should only be used on a short term basis. Alginates are another option; these medicines neutralise and form a layer on top of the stomach acid, which stops it from moving upward. They come available as tablets or a liquid and last for up to four hours. This form of treatment should not be used on a long term basis as they can result in constipation.To ease acid reflux, your GP may choose to prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which can provide effective relief for some of the painful symptoms caused by acid reflux. PPIs work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces and as a result eases the discomfort associated with this problem. Omeprazole, and Lansoprazole are probably the most widely prescribed acid reflux medications. You can buy this treatment from our online pharmacy following an online consultation with a certified doctor.
How long does it take to treat acid reflux?
What else can I do to help prevent acid reflux?
Aside from medication, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make to also help prevent acid reflux in the long term.
To help prevent acid reflux, you should:
- Eat smaller but more frequent meals
- Try to cut down your stress levels and find ways to relax
- If you are overweight, try to lose weight
- Raise one end of your bed by 10 to 20cm by putting something under the mattress or bed. Your chest and head should be above the level of your waist, so stomach acid does not travel up to your throat
At the same time, you should not:
- Drink too much alcohol
- Eat or drink anything that triggers your symptoms
- Wear clothes that are too tight around your waist
- Stop taking any medicine you have been prescribed without speaking to your doctor
Eat within a few hours of going to bed
Does acid reflux affect the sinuses?
How does acid reflux affect the body?
Acid reflux and heartburn can affect your body in a range of different ways. Different people may be affected differently, and the severity of the symptoms will also vary between each person. However, certain symptoms are consistent between most people who suffer from acid reflux. A burning sensation in the chest is very common, as is pain after eating or lying down, and a sore throat. Oral problems can also occur as a result of acid being brought into the mouth. Problems some people may experience are tooth decay, discolouration of the tongue and bad breath.If your condition does not improve after you have taken medication, or if you have suffered with acid reflux/heartburn more than a few times in the same month, then it is possible that you may have another medical condition, such as a stomach ulcer, oesophagus problems or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). If your symptoms persist, it is very important that you speak to a doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible, as there are various stages of GORD; the earlier you can get this problem ruled out or diagnosed, the better.
How do you diagnose acid reflux?
Acid reflux will normally be diagnosed from the symptoms you exhibit. When you order your treatment from Medicine Direct, you will have a short online consultation with a certified doctor, where you will fill out a short questionnaire and answer questions about the symptoms you are experiencing, as well as your overall health and medical history. This information will help them to make a diagnosis of your condition and prescribe the most appropriate treatment for you to take.
If your problem is serious enough, the doctor might prescribe you a course of medication to control and lessen your symptoms. If your symptoms are not easy to diagnose, or if they are severe enough, they may send you for more thorough testing. Additional tests by a specialist will make it easier for a medical professional to identify the root of the problem and the most appropriate treatment for your condition.If you have acid reflux, there are a number of different medicines out there to help with the problem. Your doctor will be able to recommend the most suitable one for you depending on the symptoms you exhibit and how severe the problem is. If it turns out that you are suffering from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), then the treatment may differ depending on what stage of the disease you have. GORD has varying stages, so getting the right treatment type is very important. To avoid any complications, and to rule out any more serious conditions as soon as possible, it is very important that you speak to a doctor if your symptoms bother you persistently.
Does milk or other natural treatments help to cure symptoms of acid reflux?
The effectiveness of using milk and natural remedies to treat acid reflux is unknown, although some people do believe that this form of treatment can work to relieve acid reflux and heartburn discomfort. Milk can reduce the symptoms straight after a person drinks it, but in the long run it could actually make the symptoms even worse due to the high amount of fat that is found in dairy products./
To successfully relieve the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux, you should use medicine that has been created specifically to treat the underlying causes of these problems. Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about the most appropriate treatments for your specific symptoms, and they will be able to advise you on the most suitable medication for your individual problem.
How should I treat a baby affected by acid reflux?
Medicine Direct have an experienced clinical team of doctors, pharmacists and dispensers, all of whom are based in the UK. All are fully trained and qualified to provide appropriate and considered care across all areas of treatment we have available at our online pharmacy.
This means that no matter which member of our team is assigned to your case, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of a highly skilled medical professional, who possesses the compassion and clinical expertise to properly advise you on the best course of treatment.
We are fully regulated
All of our doctors and pharmacists are fully registered with both the General Medical Council (GMC), MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Each member of our team has also worked in various clinic settings in the past, such as community pharmacies and NHS hospitals.