Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates (backs up or refluxes) into the oesophagus.
Why should I be aware of this?
The reflux of the stomach's liquid contents into the esophagus occurs in most normal individuals. One study found that reflux occurs as frequently in normal individuals as in patients with GERD. In patients with GERD, however, the refluxed liquid contains acid more often, and the acid remains in the esophagus longer. It has also been found that liquid refluxes to a higher level in the esophagus in patients with GERD than normal individuals.
All about Acid Reflux
As most digestive disorders are not a threat to life, we often ignore them. Broadly speaking most of the digestive disorders are due to
- Improper Eating Habits, such as irregular meal timings, heavy and excess late night dinners, junk foods, eating very spicy food and drinking too much coffee, tea, alcohol, and smoking.
- Stress and strain- physical as well as mental state of a person are equally important
- Over medication with pain killers like aspirin, non-steroid anti inflammatory drugs, cortisones and other medicines on empty stomachs.
Patients should never take any medication without first consulting their physician. Conventional Allopathic Medications known to alleviate symptoms of GERD include:
- Antacids. Taken after meals and at bedtime, these neutralize stomach acid. However, their effect is brief, usually limited to an hour. Antacids should not be taken for over three weeks, because of side effects including diarrhea, a build up of magnesium and impairing the ability to metabolize calcium.
- Acid reducers. These reduce the overall amount of acid in the stomach. H2 blockers and Proton pump inhibitors are acid reducers.
Histamine H2 receptor blockers. These drugs block the receptor for histamine, a chemical in the body that can stimulate acid-producing cells. They are particularly effective when taken a half-hour before meals. Some products contain antacids and H2 blockers, providing immediate relief that may last longer.
- Coating agents. Drugs that will coat the mucous membranes and provide an acid barrier.
- Promotility and prokinetic agents. These drugs stimulate the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, to help speed movement of food. They also can help close and strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter and increase the rate at which the stomach empties. Studies have found that promotility agents have more negative side effects than other drugs (e.g. H2 blockers, pump inhibitors). They are usually prescribed only when other medications do not work to reduce GERD symptoms. One drug (cisapride) was removed from the market to due serious heart-related side effects. However,it is still available from the manufacturer through a limited-access program for selective patients.
- Proton pump inhibitors. These medications reduce stomach acid production. This type of drug may take one to four days to work. They are typically prescribed for patients who have heartburn several times a week
- Foam barriers. These tablets contain both an antacid and a foaming agent. The foaming agent sits atop the liquid in the stomach, creating a barrier to reflux activity. 
Negative side effects of conventional acidity medicines
Digestive disorders are probably a pharmaceutical company's dream, a thoroughly miserable stream of people arriving at the chemists to buy antacids, acid suppressants, laxatives, fibre supplements, and dozens of other remedies whose relief is short-lived, sending everyone back for more.
Roughly 95 million Americans suffer from heartburn, which can result from stress, eating too much or too fast, or eating spicy or fatty foods. Symptoms include a burning sensation, gas, nausea, and pain. Many people treat this condition by using antacids, an over-the-counter (OTC) drug taken orally that comes in liquid or tablet form. Typical well-known brands include Tums, Rolaids, and Alka-Seltzer. Mylanta is one brand that comes in liquid form. Brands like Alka-Seltzer are taken in suspension form. Tablets consist of fine antacid powder combined with flavorings and binders. Simethicone is often added to antacids as an anti-gas agent.
Antacids based on calcium carbonate have been used for over 2,000 years. This material occurs naturally in coral and limestone and is still used in products such as Tums. 
The listed side effects of Antacids like Tagamet, Zantac, Mylanta, Tums, Gaviscon, Gelusil, Maalox and Rennies, whose generic name is Aluminium Hydroxide are
The Proton pump Inhibitors are used to stop the production of stomach acid in the treatment of Acid Reflux - GERD. The most common drug brand names are Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Losec, Zonton, Inhibitol, Protonix, Somac, Pantoloc, Aciphex, Pariet. Their negative side effects are
- Possible stomach pain
- upper respiratory tract infection
- increased risk of pneumonia
What can I do?
Many people can relieve their symptoms by changing their habits and lifestyle. The following steps, if followed, may reduce your reflux significantly.
- Finish your dinner three hours before going to bed. If your stomach is empty, your body will not be making acid to digest the food.
- Never lie down right after eating.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches with blocks. Gravity helps prevent reflux.
- Don't eat large meals. Eating a lot of food at one time increases the amount of acid needed to digest it. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
- Avoid fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, mints or mint-flavored foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomato-based foods. These foods decrease the competence of the LES.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the likelihood that acid from your stomach will back up.
- Stop smoking. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter and increases reflux.
- Overweight and obese people are much more likely to have bothersome reflux than people of healthy weight.
- Stand upright or sit up straight, maintain good posture. This helps food and acid pass through the stomach instead of backing up into the esophagus.
- Talk to your health care provider about taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or medicines for osteoporosis. These can aggravate reflux in some people.
- Drinking about one gallon of filtered water daily along with high doses of quality probiotics goes a long way toward restoring normal stomach function for most people.
- Acidity medicines may alleviate the symptoms, but they also make people more prone to future acidity attacks.
Certain foods have been known to be associated with reflux events, including;
- citrus fruits
- drinks with caffeine
- fatty and fried foods
- garlic and onions
- mint flavorings
- spicy foods
- tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, and pizza
- Acid reflux
- The Acid Reflux Diet
For more information, see Healing Daily