What is acid reflux?
It is a commonly experienced condition often referred to as heartburn. A burning feeling in the chest area is the most common symptom.
Stomach acid and enzymes rise up to the esophagus and causes reflux - also known as heartburn. This very strong acid breaks down food. In more severe cases that acid may reach the throat or mouth.
The condition can be mild to severe. It also varies in frequency from one patient to another. A severe case may be gastroesophageal reflux disease.
How does acid reflux happen?
Your stomach has a valve at the top. It is called the lower esophageal sphincter. When this valve stops opening and closing like it is supposed to acid can escape.
Symptoms of acid reflux
As with all medical conditions the severity and frequency may vary. The symptoms also change from one person to the next. It is time to see a doctor when you have it often, severity increases or if you are not sure what you are actually experiencing.
Always seek medical care when you have chest pains without a diagnosed reason.
Common acid reflux symptoms include:
- Bloody or black stools
- Bloody vomiting
- Burning feeling in chest
- Excessive saliva
- Respiratory issues like coughing or wheezing
- Sour taste in mouth
- Weight loss for unknown reason
More rare symptoms include:
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling like food is stuck in your throat
- Gum Disease
- Hoarseness with excessive throat clearing
- Hiccups (frequent and long-lasting)
- Tooth enamel decay
What causes acid reflux?
There is not one set cause. Some people will have many risk factors while others may only have one. Self diagnosis may be fairly easy to some but the underlying cause may need medical attention.
Below is a list of common risk factor but always refer to your doctor.
- Body weight (overweight or obesity)
- Diet low in fiber
- Eating close to bedtime
- Hiatal hernia
- Large meals (especially when you lay down shortly afterwards)
- Insufficient or limited exercise
- Lying down after eating
- Some medications for…
- Calcium channel blockers
- Carbonated drinks
- Muscle relaxers
- Painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen
- Blood pressure medications
There are also foods that are more likely than others to cause acid reflux…
- Acid juices
- Table salt in high quantities
- Spicy foods
- Foods that are high in fat
Is acid reflux dangerous?
Yes, it can be dangerous when left untreated. Some people only experience it occasionally with few lasting effects. Others are not so fortunate.
Sleep apnea could be worse in anyone fighting gastrointestinal problems. Further research is underway but there has been a correlation between the two.(*) It may seem obvious to anyone that has tried to sleep during a bout of reflux.
Cancer has been studied as a possible result of acid reflux. There is a reported connection in research between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and esophageal cancers. (*)
One of the fastest types of cancer is adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Although women may suffer from this, men are more commonly diagnosed with it. Obese, middle-aged or older white men are more at risk. (*)
What is apple cider vinegar (ACV)?
Apple cider vinegar is also known as cider vinegar. It is made with fermented apple juice produced by crushing apples. ACV has been found to be a home remedy for many conditions. The list of health benefits is long and growing.
How does apple cider vinegar help acid reflux?
Many researchers have studied apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy. Unfortunately, there are limited studies that verify apple cider vinegar is an acid reflux remedy. Many sufferers do report relief though.
The common idea revolves around low stomach acid levels. When the foods are not broken down, they sit in the stomach making bacteria. When that builds up, symptoms like acid reflux occur.
It may be a vicious cycle of using medications to clear up the burning sensation of reflux. A side effect of these meds is they reduce stomach acid levels. Drinking apple cider vinegar may help raise that level (*)
Baking soda can be beneficial as well. Do not mix with apple cider vinegar though.
Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to a four ounce glass of water. It is best to consume the two at different times of the day and slowly. This will help reduce the chances of gas or bloating. (*)
Some patients have found that adding chewing gum to their day helps. The idea is that it produces more saliva. That dilutes and pushes down unwanted acids in the throat.
Is apple cider vinegar safe for treating acid reflux?
Keep in mind that ACV can make heartburn worse for some people. For this reason you will want to begin with a small dose. Adding it to a small glass of water may also help.
Consuming large amounts may lead to various side effects. Two common ones are tooth decay or low potassium levels.
Diabetes is also important to consider. ACV may reduce blood sugar spikes. Although this sounds good, you need to consider the possibilities of sugar lows. It is important to talk to your doctor and monitor your blood sugar levels while introducing apple cider vinegar.
Normally a decreased appetite is thought of as a perk. Apple cider vinegar is often used when attempting to lose weight. Be careful though. If your calorie intake is too low, that can lead to more problems.
Drug interactions are always possible when introducing something new to your body. Do your research, talk to your doctor or pharmacist and make well-informed choices. Remember, there are not scientific studies for all medications and ACV so pay attention to your body.
Ways to drink apple cider vinegar
Most commonly people add it to a glass of water and consume prior to meals. The internet is full of ideas for adding it to yummy drinks. Adding to a cold glass of sparkling water, with a splash of juice or adding mint leaves are just a few ideas. Choose wisely, you don’t want to undo all the healthy goodness of apple cider vinegar.
Remember, you are not going to always find your answer on the first try. Adjust doses, how or when you take it and even the brand may need to be considered. Don't give up! There is relief out there for you.