Gastric reflux is when stomach acids come back up into the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach (the oesophagus), producing a burning pain.
What causes gastric reflux?
Gastric reflux happens when the valve that seals the entrance to the stomach doesn’t prevent the back flow of stomach acid.
It happens in two situations:
Firstly, if you increase the pressure in the stomach due to one or more of the following:
* Your stomach becomes overfull with food.
* You are pregnant.
* Your clothing is too tight.
* You carry too much body weight.
* You lie down after eating.
Secondly, if the muscle is weakened as a result of one or more of the following:
* You have a hiatus hernia
* The effects of caffeine and nicotine.
* Certain prescription drugs (ask your G.P.).
How is gastric reflux treated?
Treatment may involve taking antacid drugs to neutralise the acid and reduce the burning pain.
If it is frequent and long lasting, and you are not pregnant or overweight, you may need one of the following tests:
* An endoscopy, when a flexible viewing tube is passed down to your stomach.
* An X-ray
What can I do to help myself?
* Use your understanding of the situations outlined above to make changes necessary in your life, for example,
* Lose weight (not if you are pregnant).
* Reduce your intake of tea, coffee, alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime.
* Rest after eating.