In cold weather, Hong Kong people like to eat hot pot and spicy food to stay warm. However, frequent spicy food may cause acid reflux and make the stomach "complain".
The pH value in the stomach is usually about 1 to 3. The highly acidic gastric juice can help activate digestive enzymes and break down food into smaller molecules to facilitate absorption. In addition, gastric acid can also help absorb electrolytes and kill bacteria. The normal pH value of the esophagus should be around 7. Once it is lower than 4, you may suffer from acid reflux.
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The cardiac sphincter between the stomach and esophagus opens when food is swallowed and retracts during digestion. Patients with acid reflux have loose sphincter muscles, which may cause gastric acid to flow up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux. Spicy food contains capsaicin, one of the chemicals that can relax the cardiac sphincter. In addition, when people feast, in addition to eating fatty food, they may also drink beer and soda, and these foods and drinks can easily cause cardiac sphincter inflammation. The sphincter relaxes, increasing the risk of acid reflux.
Due to the relaxation of the cardiac sphincter, stomach gas and acid can easily flow up into the esophagus. Patients may experience chest tightness, swelling and pain, or even burning sensation, which is commonly known as "heartburn". Some patients even feel uncomfortable day and night, seriously affecting their sleep quality and work. If the problem of acid reflux is ignored, stomach acid will further rise up the throat. The patient may feel a foreign body in the throat, causing difficulty in swallowing. In more serious cases, it may even trigger an asthma attack or cause the teeth to be eroded by gastric acid.
The main drugs used to treat acid reflux are drugs that neutralize gastric acid and proton pump inhibitors. Since stomach acid is an acidic liquid, acid-neutralizing drugs effectively neutralize it with alkalinity, thus relieving acid reflux. However, its effectiveness is short, and patients may need to take the medicine 2 to 3 times a day to control their condition. In addition, the stomach must release gastric acid through a proton pump. Proton pump inhibitors can stop the proton pump from functioning and reduce gastric acid secretion, thereby reducing the risk of acid reflux. There are also improved proton pump inhibitors with two-stage release technology that can relieve symptoms for a longer period of time. Patients only need to take the medicine once a day, and the medicine's effect will last all day long, so they can say goodbye to waking up from burning heart at night.
In addition to taking medication, acid reflux can also be improved by adjusting eating habits, such as eating less irritating foods and drinks, including beer, soda and coffee, etc., avoiding overeating and eating regular meals on time. When patients develop symptoms, they should first seek medical advice to rule out other diseases that cause acid reflux, and then discuss with their doctor a suitable drug treatment plan.