Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is the name given to the burning sensation you get in your throat and chest. It’s caused by stomach acid refluxing upwards.

Causes & Symptoms

Acid reflux most commonly occurs just before bedtime, when you’re lying down, largely because it doesn't take as much force for stomach acid to travel up the chest and throat.

Stomach acid helps us break down food. But as we age, our bodies are less adapted to keeping the acid from travelling up the body. That’s why you’re more likely to experience it later in life, though it can be triggered in young people too.

The symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • A burning sensation in the chest or throat after eating
  • A hot sour or salty tasting fluid in the back of your throat, accompanied by difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling sick
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Burping

What causes acid reflux?

  • Fried and greasy foods
  • Eating too much
  • Eating too quickly
  • Fatty meats and dairy products
  • Alcohol, caffeinated drinks and spicy food, which can all cause the lower oesophageal sphincter to open.

Being overweight means there’s an increased pressure on your stomach, forcing open your oesophageal sphincter valve after eating.

But a large contributor? Stress, which can make symptoms worse. That’s because stress depletes our supply of prostaglandins, which protect our stomachs from acid. Try to get at least eight hours of restful sleep a night and cut out stressors from your life where possible.

FAQs

Some people develop LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux). The most common symptoms of LPR are a sore throat and coughing accompanied by a “lump” that doesn’t go away. If you believe you’re experiencing LPR, always consult a doctor.

Stress and anxiety can affect the body’s production of prostaglandin, which is a chemical used in the healing and repairing process throughout the body. Prostaglandin is essential to combating the damage caused by acid reflux.

If you experience acid reflux it's important to first try and monitor what you are consuming daily. Being more conscious about what you eat is an effective measure:

The most common acid reflux foods to avoid are:

  • Fatty or spicy foods
  • Oily and greasy foods
  • Dairy products
  • Creamy sauces

How is acid reflux diagnosed?

Your doctor or pharmacist can usually make a diagnosis of acid reflux based on your symptoms. They may recommend over-the counter treatments (alginates or antacids for example). If these help, it usually confirms the diagnosis.

If your symptoms are severe or aren’t settling, or if your doctor is otherwise concerned, they may refer you for tests.

Gastroscopy is the most common test to look at your stomach and see if there are any problems. This procedure takes about 15 minutes and should not be painful (although it can be uncomfortable). Your throat will be numbed with a local anaesthetic spray. You can also choose to have a sedative, if you prefer – general anaesthetic is not needed.

The endoscopist passes a thin, flexible telescope through your throat, down your oesophagus into your stomach. They will look for inflammation of the oesophagus lining and any other abnormality (including excluding a stomach ulcer). If necessary, they can take biopsies or check the acidity level in your oesophagus.

Barium swallow/barium meal is less commonly used. Heartburn and Acid reflux can be a symptom of Achalasia. Achalasia is a rare disorder of the food pipe (oesophagus), which can make it difficult to swallow food and drink. For the Barium Swallow, you drink a liquid containing barium, which shows up on X-ray as it passes through your oesophagus, your stomach and the first part of your small bowel. This shows up hiatus hernias and narrowing of the oesophagus.

Chest X-ray or a heart tracing may be recommended if your doctor wants to rule out other causes of your symptoms.

Treatment

We know how disruptive acid reflux can be, which is why our range is designed to help ease discomfort. Our products create a protective barrier that helps prevent acid - and other aggressors like pepsin and bile - from moving up the oesophagus.

The viscous formulation at the heart of our range (Gaviscon Original and Advance) is sodium alginate, while these products also contain antacids, which turn excess acid into water and other neutral substances. 

Dosage: Take 10-20 ml (Gaviscon Liquid) or 5-10 ml (Gaviscon Advance) after meals and at bedtime. Consider one teaspoon to equal 5 ml.

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. Always read the label.

Frequent Sufferers

Repeatedly suffering from acid reflux? Don’t let it put your life on pause.

If your symptoms are more severe or more frequent, you may be advised to consider an acid-suppressing medication. Your pharmacist can advise on both forms of treatment and which would be best for you.

There are two groups of acid-suppressing medications available – proton pump inhibitors and histamine receptor blockers (H2 blockers). Both reduce the amount of acid made by the stomach. They do not start to work as quickly as antacids or alignates, but their effect can last longer.

FAQs

Experiencing symptoms every week? We’re here to help. Guardium can be taken for up to 24 hour relief. Guardium is a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI), which contains esomeprazole that works by blocking acid pumps in your stomach.

Pair it with one of our other products, such as Gaviscon Advance or Gaviscon Double Action for fast effective relief while Guardium takes effect. Do not use Guardium for more than 14 days or Gaviscon for more than 7 days.

Suffering from heartburn regularly? Dealing with a burning feeling in your chest after eating? You might have what’s known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.

GORD presents symptoms indistinguishable from heartburn and indigestion, but occurs at a frequency that is chronic.

In such a case, you should consult with a doctor immediately.

The good news is that GORD can be effectively treated over time, and tweaks to the food and drinks you consume can limit the discomfort.