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Coping with Acid Reflux and When to Seek Treatment in Royal Oak, MI

At first, it’s simple–a slight discomfort in the stomach region, a bit of a burn; it’s an afterthought really. Maybe you’ll take something to cope with it–perhaps an antacid or a glass of milk.

For most people, acid reflux isn’t a problem. It’s something that crops up predictably when you eat acidic foods–too much pizza sauce or a jalapeño. It can usually be ignored, and when it gets to be too much, there’s almost always a quick remedy at hand.

But certain factors can exacerbate it. Smokers have a harder time than most. People who are obese experience it more often. Those with a higher concentration of spicy foods in their diet also have trouble–and as time goes on and we continue to indulge in unhealthy habits, acid reflux can turn into something worse.

We may find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night, stomach on fire, struggling for relief–anything to make it stop. It can halt our daily activities and make it impossible to work, drive, or perform tasks around the house.

Certain patterns will emerge, showing which foods must be avoided. Everyone's triggers are different. For some, it could be carbonated drinks, oranges, alcohol, or anything with even a hint of acidity. These triggers can cause significant discomfort and leave us struggling to find relief.

We can’t ignore these problems; our bodies won’t let us. We have to learn to cope with them, which means understanding acid reflux, what causes it, what triggers it, and when we need to seek treatment.

Here at the Rontal Clinic, ENT specialists in Royal Oak, Michigan, we're dedicated to helping you manage acid reflux. Let’s dive in and explore the symptoms and treatments available to help you find relief.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

When we eat, food is meant to travel in one direction: down. It enters our mouth and flows down the esophagus–the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It then passes through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a circular muscle that opens to allow food to pass through and closes to keep it from coming back up again. 

When certain conditions occur, the LES relaxes or weakens, allowing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus and sometimes the throat. This is known as acid reflux, and the sensation it causes is referred to as heartburn. 

What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?

Everyone is familiar with heartburn. But there are other symptoms that can come along with acid reflux as well.

Patients may taste the sour acid in their mouths. They could feel like something is stuck in their throats, such as a food particle. There may even be a backwash of acid entering the mouth. 

Some patients experience non-cardiac chest pain, similar to heart pain, largely due to the fact that acid reflux stimulates the same nerves. 

The acid can irritate the tissue in the throat, causing it to become sore. It can also trigger asthma-like symptoms, like wheezing and coughing. Many patients with asthma become triggered by it.  

When the condition worsens, the symptoms also worsen, causing nausea, vomiting, frequent burping, persistent heartburn, and trouble swallowing. These could be signs of a more severe condition commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), one of several conditions related to acid reflux. 

What Triggers Acid Reflux? 

Everyone has a unique list of triggers. When acid reflux becomes a problem, you start by cutting out the basics, including acidic foods, fatty foods, and fried foods. After that, patients will need to monitor their reactions to different foods and learn what to avoid over time.

Aside from food, certain factors that apply pressure to the stomach, including obesity, can lead to acid reflux. Some medications can have this effect as well. Try to wait 2 hours after eating before lying down. Avoid eating right before bedtime. Avoid large meals, and try to cut down on alcohol and tobacco consumption. 

When to Seek Treatment for Acid Reflux in Royal Oak

If left untreated, acid reflux can sometimes lead to serious health conditions. It’s important to know when to seek care. If any of the following conditions occur, it’s time to reach out to a provider:

  • Increase in the frequency of heartburn
  • Home remedies and OTC medications fail to alleviate symptoms
  • Relying on OTC medications or home remedies for more than 2 weeks as a time
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent burping
  • Vomiting blood or black material
  • Black or bloody bowel movements

At The Rontal Clinic, we have been helping patients with complications from acid reflux since 1972. If you’d like to set up an appointment, call or text us at(248) 737-4030.