• What is Acid Reflux?

    It is the movement of the stomach contents up the oesophagus or gullet. Often causing an uncomfortable or burning sensation behind the breastbone.

    In more serious or left untreated, Stomach contents can be regurgitated into the mouth effecting the teeth, gums and causing bad breath.

    Sometimes the regurgitated fluid can enter the airways and exacerbate or make asthma worse.

  • What causes Acid Reflux?

    The stomach has a small circular piece of muscle at the top, called the cardiac or lower oesophageal sphincter.

    This stops the stomach contents from travelling back up the oesophagus or gullet.

    When this muscle becomes weakened, the stomach contents can travel up and cause symptoms like heartburn, bad breath and the feeling of being sick.

  • Is Acid Reflux common?

    It is very common and 60% of people will have reflux or similar symptoms in a 12-month period.

    In the same period, 20-30% of people will have symptoms on a weekly basis.

  • What are the symptoms of Acid Reflux?

    The movement of acid can give the following symptoms

    • Burning feeling behind the breastbone
    • Feeling sick
    • Being sick
    • Bad breath
    • Tooth and gum problems
    • Worsening of asthma
  • What can make Acid Reflux worse?

    The following can make acid reflux worse.

    • Being overweight or obese
    • Smoking
    • Eating spicy food,
    • Large meal sizes
    • Late night Eating, within 2 hours of going to sleep
    • Alcohol
    • Coffee
    • Chocolate
    • Pregnancy
    • Tight Clothing
    • Certain medicines for blood pressure like Calcium channel blockers, medicines for angina like glyceryl trinitrate and painkillers like ibuprofen, diclofenac and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
    • Stress
    • Genetics
  • Do I need to see a doctor for Acid Reflux?

    Most symptoms of acid reflux can be treated either with over the counter remedies or by visiting your pharmacy.

    It’s important to get your symptoms checked by a Doctor if you’re

    • Getting symptoms several times a week
    • Symptoms are getting worse
    • Symptoms are not being controlled by over the counter or pharmacy medicines
    • Being sick or vomiting blood
    • Having difficulty in swallowing
  • How do I choose the right treatment for Acid Reflux?

    There are different categories of treatment and their uses and explanations are listed below.

    Generally, patients should start with antacids and then make their way down the list if treatment does not control their symptoms.

    1. Antacids- the first line treatment. Simply neutralize stomach acid.

    These help neutralize stomach acid to relieve symptoms.

    They are available in tablets, powders that you mix with water and liquid forms.

    The liquid forms work quicker than the tablets but are inconvenient to carry around.

    The effects usually last for 2-3 hours.

    Examples of antacids include Rennie, Enos, Andrews Salts, Tums

    They contain ingredients like Calcium Carbonate, which neutralizes stomach acid but too much calcium taken regularly can make acid reflux worse. Should only be used for occasional or infrequent use.

    Check with Pharmacist as these can interact with other medication

    1. Alginates- neutralize AND form a layer on the top of stomach acid which prevents upward movement.

    Are available in tablet and liquid forms. Liquids act quicker but are more inconvenient to carry around.

    Usually, last no more than 3-4 hours.

    Usually made up of Calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate or Aluminum salts. Too much calcium taken frequently can cause stomach acid to worsen so only should be used infrequently. Excessive magnesium salts can cause diarrohea and too much aluminum salts can cause constipation.

    Check with Pharmacist as these can interact with other medication

    Examples are Gavison, Gaviscon Advance, Peptac

    1. H2 Receptor Antagonists- are available as tablets. They reduce the production of stomach acid and were initially introduced on prescription for years before being available to buy in pharmacies only. Now are available in supermarkets and other outlets as well.

    They start to work in as little as 30minutes and their effects can last for up to 12 hours.

    They are well tolerated and side effects are rare. They can include diarrohea, tiredness, rashes, and constipation.

    Examples include Ranitidine, Zantac, Gavilast, Cimetidine, Pepcid AC

    1. Proton Pump Inhibitors- or PPI’s for short are the latest medicine for controlling acid reflux and other stomach symptoms.

    They also work by reducing the stomach acid but are more effective and last longer. Effects can be seen up to 17 hours after the dose is taken.

    Come in tablet or capsule forms, should be swallowed whole but Losec Tablets can be crushed if needed.

    Very well tolerated with low incidence of side effects. Usually, unwanted effects include diarrohea, constipation, drowsiness.

    Examples include Omeprazole, Pantoprazole, Losec, Nexium, Pantoloc

  • How long does it take to treat Acid Reflux?

    Short-term treatment with medication will help to control and alleviate the symptoms. Treatment time varies with different medication and can be very quick with antacids working within minutes and H2 receptor Antagonists and PPI’s up to 60mins.

  • What else can I do to help prevent Acid Reflux?

    Non-medicinal treatments to help alleviate acid reflux include:-

    • Eat smaller portions spread out through the day rather than 3 main meals
    • Avoid eating at least 2hours before going to bed
    • Stop smoking
    • Reduce alcohol intake
    • Reduce stress
    • Loosen tight clothing
    • If it’s worse at night, then use another pillow to prop yourself up or elevate the head end of the bed.
    • Lose weight
    • Check your medication with your pharmacist or Doctor to ensure it's not causing your symptoms.

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