What is acid reflux relief?

In medically oriented terms, antonyms of the word relief include pain, distress or damage. That links its meaning to both subjective and objective aspects. Subjective, denoting sensations experienced by the sufferer such as pain and objective, meaning physical findings detected by specialists which are either functional distress or organic damage. Actually relief is related to control measures and it quantitatively signifies removal of an unpleasant existence or reduction of its magnitude. The definition of relief, therefore encompasses alleviation of pain, relaxation of distress and healing of damage. Acid reflux on the other hand has two sides; the subjective side (symptoms) which reflects the symptom of heartburn and the objective side (signs) that reflects the functional and/or organic signs of esophageal changes. Acid reflux relief is therefore a broad term that covers all the measures used to control symptoms and signs of acid reflux disease. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter remains closed except during swallowing. This prevents the passage of food and acid from the stomach into the esophagus. If the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weakened or relaxed, stomach acid may back up into the esophagus. Frequent acid reflux can irritate and inflame the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms and signs of acid reflux. A better understanding of relief would thus entail knowledge of some aspects of normal structure and function, so that changes in the disease and its control could be easily considered. Actually acid reflux relief involves both preventive and curative measures, and in addition to treatment; orientation with the causes, symptoms and complications of acid reflux are essential for proper management. Acid reflux relief includes: dietary changes,lifestyle modifications, specific medications and surgical operations.Basic knowledge of the underlying causes and progression of acid reflux and answering frequently asked questions about its relief; add to the depth of understanding.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Acid Reflux Relief logoThe role of saliva in acid reflux relief

What about chewing gums for acid reflux relief?

The importance of saliva in acid reflux relief can be predicted by considering a scenario where an individual is about to vomit. Vomit contains gastric substances which are extremely acidic and injurious. A protective reflex occurs before the individual prepares to vomit. Signals are sent from the brain to the salivary glands via the involuntary nervous system to cause increased saliva secretion, even before vomiting occurs. Thus, when vomiting does occur, there is already saliva available for acting to minimize the acidity and thus prevent tissue destruction.
Saliva is formed mainly in the major glands of the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual, as well as minor glands. The constituents of saliva are mediators of its various functions and effects in relation to acid reflux relief. As saliva is a viscous liquid mainly composed of water and containing mucin; one of its important functions is acting as a lubricant for the passage of food into the esophagus, moistening food and helping to create a food bolus, so it can be swallowed easily. Diminished salivary production deprives the swallowed food bolus of its water content and the lubricant effect of mucin, it would thus be irritating to the esophageal lining.
Saliva contains all the ions usually present in body fluids, and of these, bicarbonate ions which play a major role in determining the pH and buffering capacity of saliva. The primary salivary buffer is composed of bicarbonate (HCO3-). Bicarbonate is excreted through the duct system by means of an active transport mechanism. Salivary bicarbonate can help protect the esophgus against attack from refluxed acid produced by the stomach. This buffer system forms the first line of defense against acidic challenges, a salivary function of utmost importance in esophageal clearance and acid reflux relief.
Salivary responses to chewing and taste stimuli are innate. Salivary flow increases during eating. The physical action of chewing stimulates nerve endings in the tissues around the teeth. Flavorful substances stimulate taste buds. Both of these stimuli are potent initiators of salivary flow. Signals from nerve endings in the mouth evoke salivation by exciting the salivary centers in the brain stem. Salivary secretion is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The importance of chewing and avoiding medications that affect the involuntary nervous system is thus quite clear for acid reflux relief. Smoking is also a known factor in the causation of dry mouth and should be stopped.
Secretion of the salivary glands is 1-1.5 liters daily. When salivary flow is too low, dry mouth (xerostomia) may result. Here, normal oral functions such as chewing and swallowing can be uncomfortable and difficult to perform and acid reflux is aggravated.
Emotional disturbances affect the rate of salivary secretion leading to xerostomia. A lowered rate of flow has been noted in patients suffering from depression. However, most xerostomia is due to medications used in the management of these problems. Again, these factors should be considered for proper management of acid reflux.