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Looking at acid reflux in China

Pacific Prime China discusses acid reflux in China, the symptoms and causes, along with how health insurance can help cover any visits to the doctor for treatment.

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 by Rob McBroom

Have you ever woken up at night with a burning sensation in your stomach or throat? The first thing many of us will do is reach for an antacid to settle our stomachs, but if this recurs it may be the sign of a larger problem: Acid reflux. In and of itself acid reflux is a fairly common thing, experienced by almost everybody at some point in their life - according to a study published on BioMedCentral in 2010, just over 3% of the population in China have regular acid reflux. If you find yourself reaching for the antacid on a regular basis then it could be cause for alarm. In this article, we take a look at exactly what acid reflux is, how you can avoid it, and when you should see a doctor.


What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux happens when the part of our lower esophagus that connects with the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, doesn't close fully allowing stomach acid to essentially back up into our esophagus. When this happens we will usually feel one or a number of symptoms including:

  • Heartburn - A burning sensation from your stomach that is most commonly felt behind the breastbone, or anywhere from your stomach to your throat.

  • Regurgitation - This usually happens when you bend over or are sleeping and is sour or bitter tasting.

  • Increased burping

  • Dark black stool or blood in vomit

  • Feeling tightness in the throat like you have food or a pill stuck in the back of your throat

  • Nausea

  • Pain in the abdomen after eating

  • Unintended weight loss

For most people, the leading symptom of acid reflux is heartburn along with a bitter taste in the back of the throat. As we stated above, anyone can experience acid reflux, but if it happens on a regular basis doctors will often refer to it as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is similar to acid reflux in that the symptoms are almost exactly the same, but it is much more frequent, usually more than once a week.  


Causes of acid reflux

While there are many, many potential causes of acid reflux or GERD, there are a number of common causes known to doctors including:

  • Having a Hiatal hernia - A condition where the upper part of the stomach and lower esophagus move above the diaphragm. Because the diaphragm is important in keeping stomach acid in the stomach, if a hiatal hernia happens you will likely feel the symptoms of acid reflux.

  • Eating large meals shortly before bedtime - If your stomach is full, there is more of a chance it will exert pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which could cause it to not fully close and let stomach acid up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux.

  • Being overweight - This can add pressure on the valve and stomach leading to increased chances of both acid reflux and GERD.

  • Drinking and eating certain beverages and foods - Foods such as those that are high in fat, spicy, oily; and drinks like alcohol, soda, and others that contain caffeine are known to increase the chances of acid reflux.

  • Being pregnant - It is widely known that women who are pregnant can suffer acid reflux. There are precautions that should be taken if you have acid reflux when you are pregnant, so be sure to talk with your doctor.     

  • Taking large quantities of certain medication - Both prescription and over-the-counter medication like aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, and even blood pressure medications can lead to, or exacerbate acid reflux. This is especially true for Aspirin and Ibuprofen which are notoriously hard on the stomach if taken long-term.


Avoiding acid reflux

It is important to note here that if you have these symptoms on a regular basis - most experts define "regular" as being more than once or twice a week - it would be a good idea to see your doctor. If you have had it before, but not on a regular basis there are a number of things you can do to avoid acid reflux, including:

  • Avoid food and drinks that trigger your acid reflux - As we noted above, some foods and drinks like alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, and drinks with caffeine can trigger acid reflux. If you limit these or eliminate them from your diet entirely, you should notice fewer instances.

  • Quit smoking - Smoking is known to exacerbate acid reflux and many doctors will suggest that you stop.

  • Maintain or reach a healthy body weight - If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce the chances of acid reflux.

  • Don't eat large meals or lay down just after eating - Giving your stomach time to digest and reducing the amount of food in your stomach can help reduce the amount of reflux.

  • Consult your doctor about your medication - As we mentioned above, certain medications can cause acid reflux. If you take medication, it would be a good idea to talk with your doctor to see if anything you are taking could be causing the reflux.

One thing about acid reflux is that it can actually be a sign of a much more serious problem. For example, it is also a common symptom of certain types of cancer and stomach issues like ulcers. If you have symptoms on a regular basis, it would be a good idea to talk with your doctor. In China, you will likely want to go to a doctor at an international hospital, which can be quite expensive. Securing a strong health insurance plan can be the best way to help cover any care you need.

Contact the experts at Pacific Prime China today to learn more about our insurance plans.  


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