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Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a common digestive condition that affects millions of people globally. It is also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux (GER/GERD) or heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more severe form of acid reflux.

It occurs when stomach acid goes up into your throat area. This can be for a number of reasons, including the types of food you are eating or the times of day.

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About Acid Reflux (GERD)

Many people often ask, "What are the symptoms of acid reflux?" To answer this and discuss treatments, we need to first know what acid reflux is.

Acid reflux, indigestion, or heartburn are common digestive problems that are really uncomfortable, but they are not always a disease.

However, if you experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GER).

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD/GERD) is when stomach acid leaks out of the stomach into the oesophagus (the food pipe/tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach).

It can cause a burning sensation in the chest called heartburn. Other irritated symptoms of acid reflux include chest pain, regurgitation (bringing up food or liquid from the stomach), difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, and a sour taste in the mouth.

This condition can affect people of all ages, occurs in one in five people and is most common in adults aged 40 and over. Proton pump inhibitors are a class of medication that treat Acid Reflux.

They work by suppressing the production of stomach acid, which counteracts the symptoms of acid reflux.

Differentiate between normal acid reflux and GERD:

  • Frequency: Normal acid reflux usually happens less than once a week. GERD happens more often than once a week, or it may happen every day.
  • Duration: Normal acid reflux usually goes away on its own within a few minutes or hours. GERD symptoms may last for hours or even days.
  • Severity: Normal acid reflux symptoms are usually mild. GERD symptoms can be more severe and may interfere with daily activities.

How does it work?

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach. It acts as a valve or a small door, preventing stomach acid and contents from flowing back up into the esophagus.

It usually closes tightly after food passes through. But sometimes it doesn't close all the way, or it opens too often. When this happens, excessive stomach acid can flow back up into our esophagus.

This can cause a burning feeling in our chest called heartburn.

Who is at risk for acid reflux?

Anyone can develop acid reflux, but some people are at higher risk than others. Risk factors for acid reflux include:

  • Being overweight or obese: Excess weight puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that keeps stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. This can weaken the LES and make it more likely for stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.

  • Hiatal hernia: A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. This can weaken the LES and make it more likely for stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.

  • Pregnancy:The hormonal changes of pregnancy can relax the LES, making it more likely for stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
  • Smoking: Smoking weakens the LES and damages the lining of the esophagus, making it more susceptible to acid damage.

  • Eating large meals or eating late at night can put pressure on the LES and increase the risk of acid reflux.
  • Alcohol relaxes the LES and increases the production of stomach acid.
  • Certain foods and beverages, such as fatty or fried foods, chocolate, coffee, and citrus fruits, can trigger acid reflux symptoms.
  • Delayed gastric emptying: Delayed gastric emptying is a condition in which food moves too slowly through the stomach. This can cause pressure to build up in the stomach, which can weaken the LES and increase the risk of acid reflux.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and certain antidepressants, can irritate the lining of the esophagus and make acid reflux symptoms worse.
  • Older adults are more likely to develop acid reflux. This is because the LES can weaken with age.
  • Family history: If you have a family history of acid reflux, you are more likely to develop it yourself.
If you are at risk for GERD, there are things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Avoid foods that trigger your GERD symptoms
  • Elevate the head of your bed when you sleep
  • Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking that may be contributing to your GERD.

If you are experiencing acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, or if your symptoms are severe or persistent, it is important to see a doctor to rule out GERD.

When Should You See Your Doctor?

You should see your doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent stomach issues
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in stool
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Family history of gut problems
  • Symptoms don't improve or worsen
  • Severe symptoms or fever
  • Choking episodes
  • Bloody or black vomit or stool
  • Abdominal pain

If you might be pregnant, have your symptoms checked promptly. Seeking medical advice is crucial for proper evaluation and guidance on your digestive health.




A hiatal hernia is a common cause of acid reflux and occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle that separates the abdomen and the chest and helps keep the acid in the stomach.

Having a hiatal hernia means acid is able to freely move into the oesophagus and cause acid reflux symptoms. Other risk factors of acid reflux include those who are obese, pregrant, smokers or those who suffer from stress/anxiety. Some medication such as ibuprofen and aspirin can also cause acid reflux as a side effect.

Eating large meals or eating 3-4 hours before bed is associated with causing acid reflux as there is not enough time for the food to be processed in the stomach before lying down, therefore symptoms of acid reflux will be more likely when lying down.


What are the best medicines for Heartburn and Acid Reflux?

Prescription Acid Reflux tablets and capsules:

For more persistent and severe acid reflux, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Lansoprazole: Another effective proton pump inhibitor (PPI), it is the branded version of the generic Omeprazole.
  • Omeprazole 10 mg, 20 mg: A highly potent medication that helps to stop excessive stomach acid production.
  • Esomeprazole Capsules: This prescription medication is designed to control severe acid reflux symptoms.

Acid Relux Suppressant

  1. Gaviscon: Available in liquid and tablet forms, Gaviscon creates a protective barrier in the stomach to prevent acid reflux.
  2. Peptac (liquid): This liquid medication acts as an acid suppressant, easing acid reflux symptoms.

These medications work by managing stomach acid levels to alleviate heartburn and acid reflux discomfort. Always consult with your healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment for your specific needs.


What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

The main sign of GERD is heartburn, which feels like a burning pain in the chest that moves up to the neck and throat. People often say it feels like food is coming back into their mouth, leaving a sour or bitter taste.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) symptoms are usually worse at night or when bending or lying down, and after meals. Acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Upper abdominal or chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath
  • Regurgitation (bringing up food or liquid from the stomach)
  • Painful burning sensations in the throat or chest
  • Difficulty swallowing or eating normally
  • Bleching (burping)
  • Tooth erosion (the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack)
  • Excessively salivating
  • Wheezing, asthma symptopms
  • Chronic coug and difficulty breathing

what is acid reflux symptoms | Ashcroft Pharmacy UKImage is educatinal perpose only


  • How can I avoid Acid Reflux?

    Some people suffer from long-term acid reflux. The chance of symptoms occurring can be reduced by having smaller meals more often rather than having large meals less frequently. Raising the head of your bed, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding dietary triggers will also reduce the chance of symptoms occurring.

  • What are the Treatments for Acid Reflux?

    There is no cure for acid reflux, however eating smaller portions more often, prescription medication and over the counter medication can treat the symptoms of acid reflux.

  • Is acid reflux dangerous?

    Acid reflux is usually not dangerous, but persistent or severe cases may lead to complications known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

    Possible complications include esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, strictures, and respiratory issues. It's important to seek medical advice for persistent or worsening symptoms to prevent potential complications, including rare cases of esophageal cancer associated with untreated GERD.

  • How common is acid reflux in UK?

    Acid reflux is quite common in the UK, with around 1 in 5 people experiencing it. As we age, the likelihood of experiencing symptoms of heartburn increases.

    It's important to note that persistent or severe symptoms may require attention from healthcare professionals for proper management.

  • What causes acid reflux?

    Acid reflux happens when stomach acid goes back up into the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It often occurs because a door-like muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) doesn't work properly.

    Eating too much, certain foods, being overweight, and smoking can make it worse. Managing what you eat and other habits can help treat it.

  • How do you get rid of acid reflux?

    To alleviate acid reflux, consider dietary changes and medications like Gaviscon or omeprazole.

    Here are some steps to relieve acid reflux:

    1. Avoid trigger foods.
    2. Eat smaller, frequent meals.
    3. Stay upright after eating.
    4. Elevate your head while sleeping.
    5. Quit smoking.
    6. Use antacids or H2 blockers.
    7. Consider prescription PPIs for severe cases.
    8. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Consult a healthcare professional for persistent or severe symptoms.

    Read more about 'How to stop Acid reflux' for more details.

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