The Wilmslow Hospital: Tired of feeling the burn? 

By Glossy Magazine

The Wilmslow Hospital

The Wilmslow Hospital: Tired of feeling the burn? 

The Wilmslow Hospital

Understanding acid reflux: causes, treatments and tips for relief

Do you ever experience a painful burning sensation in your chest after a meal or when lying down? If so, you’re not alone. You could be suffering from acid reflux, a common digestive disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. While occasional heartburn may seem harmless, persistent acid reflux can lead to serious complications if left untreated. It’s estimated that approximately 20% of the UK population have problems with severe acid reflux, which can have a real impact on quality of life. 

The Wilmslow Hospital: Mr-Paul-Goldsmith

Here, Mr Paul Goldsmith, acid reflux specialist and consultant general surgeon at The Wilmslow Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, answers our questions about the causes of acid reflux, effective treatments, preventative measures and its potential link to more serious conditions.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when your stomach acid flows into your oesophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Normally, a ring of muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) acts as a barrier between your stomach and oesophagus, preventing this backward flow of stomach acid. However, when the LES muscle weakens or relaxes abnormally, acid reflux can occur.

In addition to heartburn, the symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, chronic cough and a sore throat.

What causes acid reflux?

There are multiple factors that can contribute to the development of acid reflux, but several factors can certainly increase the risk:

Diet: Acidic, spicy or fatty foods, as well as caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages, can trigger acid reflux symptoms. 

Being overweight: Excess weight can put pressure on the stomach which can cause acid to reflux into the oesophagus.

Smoking: Smoking weakens the LES and increases the production of stomach acid.

Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increased pressure on the abdomen during pregnancy can lead to acid reflux.

Certain medications: Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can relax the LES, contributing to acid reflux.

What are the treatment options? 

Fortunately, there are lots of effective treatments available to manage acid reflux and alleviate the symptoms.

Occasional acid reflux may be managed with lifestyle changes. Adopting healthy habits such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding foods that trigger reflux, eating smaller meals, avoiding eating late at night or right before you go to bed, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and refraining from lying down after eating can all help to reduce episodes of acid reflux.

Persistent or severe symptoms may require medical intervention. Over-the-counter antacids, H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can help neutralise stomach acid and reduce its production. When lifestyle changes and medications are ineffective, surgery may be recommended to strengthen the LES and prevent acid reflux. 

While occasional acid reflux is common and usually harmless, chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to more serious conditions; it’s important to manage acid reflux effectively to reduce the risk of developing these serious complications. 

At The Wilmslow Hospital we understand the impact that acid reflux can have on your quality of life. Our dedicated team of gastrointestinal experts are here to provide you with comprehensive care and personalised treatment plans to help you find relief from your acid reflux symptoms. 

From diagnostics to advanced treatments, we are committed to helping you achieve optimal digestive health. 

Call: 0333 060 3706 to arrange an appointment with one of our expert consultants.