Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is a very common condition in South Asians. Acid reflux occurs when the acid in the stomach flows backward into the esophagus, or swallowing tube.
Common symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Heartburn (burning pain behind the breastbone)
- Sour taste in the back of the mouth
- Less common symptoms that may also be signs of acid reflux include:Non-burning chest pain
- Stomach pain (upper part of abdomen)
- Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- Persistent cough
- New onset asthma or asthma only at night
The following alarm symptoms may indicate more serious disease, which warrants immediate medical attention:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Choking sensation
- Painful swallowing
- Bleeding (vomiting blood or passing dark-colored stools)
- Unexpected weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Chest pain
Many of the following major risk factors for acid reflux are typical of a South Asian lifestyle:
- Heavy late-night meals
- Spicy foods
- Fried foods and other foods rich in saturated fats
- Caffeine intake, especially late in the day (such as afternoon tea)
- Being overweight, especially around the stomach
Pregnancy also increases one's risk of experiencing acid reflux.
The following lifestyle changes are important for managing acid reflux:
- Eat dinner earlier, at least three to four hours before going to bed
- Prepare lighter dinners, with less spice and less fat
- Eliminate caffeinated drinks, especially after 12:00 pm
- Eat smaller meals to avoid overfilling the stomach
- Restrict alcohol use
- Quit smoking
- Lose excess weight
In addition to the above items, there are over-the-counter acid blockers and other medications that can help. Discuss these options with your physician.
Last Reviewed: 2012
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