What Causes Acid Reflux and GERD (Heartburn)?
No matter how long you have suffered with acid reflux, chances are you really do not understand the disorder. Sure, you know full well what it feels like, but do you know what causes acid reflux disease and GERD?
It All Starts With Acid
You probably have been told that acid reflux is the result of too much acid in your stomach. But have you ever wondered what causes your stomach to make more acids than it needs for digestion?
There are several factors that can cause your stomach to go into overdrive when it comes to producing digestive juices. But the most common reason may be the types of foods that you are putting into your stomach – all at the same time.
Different kinds of foods require the body to produce different kinds of digestive acids in order to break them down in the digestive tract and produce energy for the body. If you inadvertently mix some of these different foods together at a meal or party, then your stomach may begin producing several different types of digestive juices to break down those foods and this can cause the stomach to become too acidic for comfort.
The Sphincter Muscle Also Plays a Role in Acid Reflux
Now, let’s say that you have overindulged at dinner one evening and mixed a few foods that all cause the body to produce a different type of digestive acid. You can feel indigestion taking place which is a completely normal bodily response. Given time those acids will settle down and you will feel better.
But what about the person who begins to feel those acids in the back of their throat after virtually every meal? If your sphincter muscle (the small flap that connects the esophagus to the stomach) does not close properly for some reason, even a normal amount of those acids may begin to back up into the esophagus. That is what causes acid reflux.
This regurgitation may be subtle, leaving a bad taste in your mouth or it can be very alarming and actually making you feel ill. Either way, the failure of the sphincter muscles to close is causing a back-up or regurgitation of dangerous stomach acids. Left unchecked they can actually damage the throat and esophagus, causing a chronic cough, sore throat and even cancer of the esophagus!
So, why would your sphincter muscle stop working like it should? Maybe you damaged it in an accident or by smoking cigarettes or it could have been damaged due to an illness or infection. You won’t know for sure until your doctor runs a few tests and even then he may not be able to explain the sudden onslaught of acid reflux symptoms other than to blame a non-working sphincter.
A Lack of Neutralizing Acids May Also Play a Role in GERD
Here is another reason that you may suffer with acid reflux – your saliva does not contain enough natural bicarbonate. Yes, your spit helps you digest foods comfortably by neutralizing stomach acids. If for some reason you saliva is not producing adequate amounts of these neutralizing chemicals or you do not swallow much, then your natural digestive acids may build up.
Ignoring the Signs
Another thing that can cause acid reflux and GERD is ignoring the beginning signs of trouble. All-too-often patients walk into their doctor’s office complaining of severe acid reflux when if they had only sought help months earlier, they may have been able to thwart many of its consequences.
As soon as you suspect that your body is overproducing stomach acids seek help. This can help keep GERD from taking hold and creating havoc in your body. Repeated bouts of indigestion and heartburn should be reported to your doctor as soon as you notice a pattern.
What are some other signs you should watch for?
- A chronic cough
- A constant sore throat
- hoarseness in the morning
- nighttime heartburn
- tight throat
- bad breathe
- trouble swallowing
- a burning sensation in the throat
By taking GERD (and its symptoms) seriously you can thwart future attacks and get on the road to recovery before acid reflux can cause any serious harm to your throat or digestive system.
The causes of acid reflux and GERD are varied. Only your doctor can tell you for sure what had caused the condition to strike. Understanding the cause of your specific type of GERD is important to finding a treatment plan that works.