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Stop Ignoring Your Heartburn! It Can Be A Serious Chronic Disease

Stop Ignoring Your Heartburn! It Can Be A Serious Chronic Disease

Many of us have suffered the uncomfortable sensation of heartburn from time to time – that burning feeling in the chest that can last from a few minutes to several hours after eating. Many people will assume it’s acid reflux, which if only occasionally experienced, could well be.

However, if you find you get heartburn quite often, it could be a more chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which also has heartburn as a symptom but carries more serious consequences, if not treated.

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What Is The Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux?

Knowing the difference between GERD and acid reflux is important because the occasional bout of heartburn could just be triggered by certain foods but GERD is much more serious and could cause swelling in the oesophagus together with frequent heartburns that last longer and won’t go away with over-the-counter remedies. If acid is continuously in contact with the lining of the oesophagus, it will cause bleeding, ulcers and scarring.

Acid reflux occurs when the muscle situated between your stomach and oesophagus, known as the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), becomes weak. Its purpose is to close off the oesophagus after the food has passed to the stomach and any weakness in the muscle can increase the risk of stomach acid getting exposed to the oesophagus. Acid reflux is when the stomach acid moves backwards and burns the delicate lining of the oesophagus causing heartburn.

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GERD happens when the lining of the oesophagus is extremely sensitive and starts to cause other symptoms such as feelings of regurgitation, chest pain, trouble swallowing, ulcers and dry coughs. If you find you experience heartburn more than twice a week, it would be advised to seek a medical consultation to find the root cause of the heartburn.

How Can I Deal With Acid Reflux?

There are many factors that can increase the chances of acid reflux. Pinpointing these can help to relieve symptoms and stop acid reflux altogether.

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  1. Diet: Probably the most common cause is the types of food and drink we consume. Fizzy drinks, alcohol and fatty foods can all contribute to acid reflux. Also consuming big portions in one sitting or lying down after eating can allow acid to enter the oesophagus more easily.
  2. Smoking: Lighting up those cigarettes on a regular basis can cause the mucus membranes to get damaged and, in turn, increases acid production. It also reduces saliva production in the mouth which normally neutralises the acid.
  3. Weight: Having excess fat on our bodies puts a huge strain on our organs and the efficiency at which they work. Being overweight or obese puts pressure on the stomach and increases the chances of acid reflux occurring.
  4. Hiatal hernias: These can happen to anyone at any age. It’s when part of the stomach squeezes up into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm. No one quite knows what causes a hiatal hernia but it can be dealt with by eating smaller portions, avoiding lying down after eating and removing certain foods or drinks that make the symptoms worse.
  5. Yoga: Yoga is something that can be attempted by anyone and can be extremely beneficial. Some believe certain yoga poses can help to lessen the chance of acid reflux.

What Can I Do If I Have Acid Reflux Regularly?

If you have chronic acid reflux, then the chances are it has developed into GERD and it is advised to seek medical assistance. Treatment for GERD is aimed at decreasing the amount of reflux or reducing damage to the lining of the oesophagus from refluxed materials. Extreme cases will see the use of prescription medication or surgery but simple lifestyle changes can help towards lessening the discomfort.

The treatment for acid reflux can be applied to GERD with special emphasis on the types of food and drink you consume. Anything that could potentially weaken the LES muscle including chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, coffee, and alcohol, along with acidic products that can irritate such as citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, and pepper, should be avoided.

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Experiencing the discomfort that comes with acid reflux and GERD should never be ignored so make sure you change your lifestyle or seek medical advice. Your quality of life is important and essential to your overall well-being and happiness.

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    Jenny Marchal

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on May 15, 2019

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

    “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

    When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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    Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

    We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

    But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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    So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

    It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

    1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

    Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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    2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

    This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

    You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

    3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

    This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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    4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

    How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

    So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

    If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

    And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

    Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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