Acid reflux is a common condition that’s thought to affect around a quarter of all adults in the UK. Acid reflux is sometimes called heartburn, but despite the name, it has nothing to do with the heart.
Acid reflux happens when stomach acid travels upwards and irritates the oesophagus, sometimes causing tissue damage. It’s an unpleasant sensation that often feels like pain or burning in the chest, and is sometimes accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth if the stomach acid reaches the throat or tongue.
Most people experience heartburn at some point in their lives, but fewer live with it as a regular occurrence. However, if you find that you’re experiencing heartburn at least twice a week, it might indicate a condition called GORD – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. GORD requires treatment before it worsens, as complications can include an increased risk of developing ulcers or even oesophageal cancer.
Luckily, a wide range of acid reflux treatments are available from iMeds UK, as well as from your own GP.
Dr. Diana Gall
Our Health Care Team
"Acid reflux is a common condition that can be painful to live with if it’s untreated. Whilst most people experience heartburn at some point in their lives, people that regularly have acid reflux need to see their GP for evaluation, as medication may be needed to stop it from getting worse or damaging the oesophagus."
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition that’s caused by stomach acid that finds its way into the oesophagus, where it can cause pain, irritation and inflammation. It’s a common condition, but it can be incredibly uncomfortable for those that experience it.
Acid reflux is also commonly known as heartburn. This is because when the acid reaches the chest area, it can feel like a burning sensation around the heart. Luckily, acid reflux is unrelated to any heart symptoms, but the pain associated with it can often be mistaken for a heart attack or angina due to the close proximity of the oesophagus and the heart.
Acid reflux is common, and most people experience it at some point in their lives without it causing any problems, but when it happens regularly or frequently, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor to discuss treatment options and to investigate the cause of your symptoms. If you experience symptoms more than twice a week, your acid reflux may be diagnosed as GORD – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. However, both conditions are treatable, and most often respond to medications without the need for invasive procedures such as surgery.
Acid reflux symptoms
The main symptom of acid reflux is usually unmistakeable – a burning sensation in the chest and sometimes the throat. However, acid reflux can often be accompanied by other symptoms, some of which you may not even realise are related to the condition.
Some of the most common acid reflux symptoms besides heartburn include:
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing hiccups
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sore throat
- Bloody stools
- Bloody vomit
- Bad breath
You might not experience all of the symptoms on the list above, as some of them are only associated with more chronic or serious cases of acid reflux or GORD. However, if you do experience any of them for more than 4 weeks, or more than twice per week, you should seek your doctor’s advice before buying acid reflux treatment online.
What causes heartburn?
Heartburn and acid reflux can have a number of causes or triggers, but the condition is often the result of a weak lower-oesophageal sphincter, which can allow acid to leak out of the stomach and into the oesophagus.
Some of the most common heartburn and acid reflux triggers include:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- Being overweight
- Anxiety and stress
- Hiatus hernia
- NSAID use
- Large portions
- Acidic foods
There are just some of the most common causes of acid reflux symptoms, but you should keep track of what you eat when you tend to get the worst symptoms so that you can start to work out if anything triggers your heartburn.
What does heartburn feel like?
Heartburn might feel slightly different for anyone that experiences it. Some people notice a dull ache in their chest, whilst many others feel a raw burning just behind the breastbone.
For some people, burping can encourage stomach acid to come up even further, sometimes to the back of the throat or into the mouth. This usually tastes very unpleasant, and can cause the burning sensation to be felt in the tonsils.
Some people with acid reflux also experience dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. If this happens, it can feel like food is stuck in your throat, or somewhere along the oesophagus. This in itself can cause chest pain behind the breastbone.
Acid reflux treatment
Acid reflux treatment usually begins with making lifestyle changes that might contribute to your symptoms. For example, if you’re overweight, losing weight might help to ease the severity of the condition, and quitting smoking if you’re a smoker can do the same.
As part of your acid reflux treatment, you should also avoid any foods or drinks that might trigger it. If you know that alcohol makes your symptoms worse, you should avoid it as much as you can, as well any anything else such as spicy or fatty foods.
In some instances, it can be difficult to avoid triggers. For example, if you need to use NSAIDs for pain relief regularly, you might find that avoiding them isn’t an option. In this case, you should speak to your doctor about the most effective ways to manage your conditions.
In addition to lifestyle changes, acid reflux treatment might involve taking medication daily for some period of time. Your GP will advise you on what you should take, and how long you should take it for. Some people need long-term treatment if acid reflux is a recurring issue for them, whilst others may only need to take medication as and when it’s needed, or when symptoms flare up.
Acid reflux medicine
There are several options for acid reflux medicine that are available from iMeds. The most common and effective treatments fall under the PPI (proton pump inhibitor) family of medicines. These include:
PPIs work by reducing the amount of acid that’s in your stomach, meaning that it will be less likely to travel upwards and into the oesophagus. This type of acid reflux medicine is usually taken once a day, and often in the morning before food.
Antacids are another option for acid reflux medicine, and can usually be bought in supermarkets without a prescription. However, antacids don’t actually reduce the volume of acid in the stomach – they neutralise what’s already in there, relieving symptoms temporarily. This is a good treatment option if you only suffer from acid reflux occasionally.
Finally, you can also buy histamine-2 receptor agonists. They work in a similar way to PPIs, but rather than blocking the actual pumps, it blocks an enzyme that encourages the production of stomach acid. H2 receptor agonists usually have to be taken around twice a day, and usually relieve symptoms within half an hour or so.
Ranitidine acid reflux
Ranitidine is a h2 receptor agonist, and is effective against the symptoms of acid reflux.
Lower strengths of ranitidine (75mg) are available from supermarkets and pharmacies, but the higher strength of 150mg is a prescription-only medicine. iMeds UK can supply ranitidine for acid reflux, prescribed by GMC registered doctors. To buy ranitidine for acid reflux, you must first complete a consultation form about your condition for one of our doctors to review.
Omeprazole for heartburn
Omeprazole for heartburn, along with other PPIs are also available from iMeds UK. Branded and generic versions to choose from.
Before you buy omeprazole for heartburn, you should first check with your GP to see if it’s safe for you to take.
Buy heartburn treatment
You can now buy heartburn treatments online, without the need for a GP appointment. Simply complete an online consultation form for acid reflux, and choose whichever heartburn treatment you’d like. Your consultation will then be sent to our GMC-registered doctors for review, and if approved, your medication will be shipped directly to your door.
Take a look at the range of heartburn treatments above, and always ask the advice of a pharmacist or doctor before starting any new medication.