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The Association Between Acid Reflux And Pregnancy

May 1, 2008
Pregnancy can cause a lot of body changes. In most cases, these changes may cause some discomfort and sometimes certain health conditions. One of the health conditions that women may develop due to pregnancy is acid reflux. Let's talk about acid reflux and pregnancy.

Is Acid Reflux Normal During Pregnancy?

Most pregnant women suffer from acid reflux. In fact, 1 in 4 pregnant women experience symptoms associated with acid reflux, such as heartburn, all throughout their pregnancy. The condition is also considered a pregnancy side effect and affects a third of all pregnant women. The good news is, acid reflux normally goes away after pregnancy. If this doesn't happen in your case though, there is always treatment available after proper diagnosis.

Why Do Pregnant Women Have Acid Reflux?

There are many reasons. The three major reasons for acid reflux during pregnancy are hormones, weight gain and pressure.

- Hormones - in a pregnant woman's body tend to rise dramatically. When this happens, more acid is produced in the stomach, causing acid reflux. The hormones estrogen and progesterone may cause constipation and slower digestion, which in turn may worsen the symptoms of acid reflux. Furthermore, these hormones may also weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easy for stomach acid to enter the esophagus.

- Gaining Weight -caused by pregnancy can contribute to hiatial hernias, a condition in which a part of the stomach extends beyond the diaphragm. As a result, acid tends to reach the esophagus.

- Bodily Pressure - builds inside the stomach as the baby grows. As a result, food is sometimes pushed through the diaphragm along with stomach acid. Thus, acid reflux occurs.

What Are The Symptoms Of Acid Reflux In Pregnant Women?

Vomiting and Nausea - During the first trimester of pregnancy, women often feel like vomiting or nauseated. For other women, these symptoms can go on for up to 9 months. These symptoms are said to be mainly caused by the rise of hormone levels in the pregnant woman's body. Those with worse cases of acid reflux may develop malnutrition. Pregnant women who already had acid reflux before pregnancy are more likely to have worse cases of reflux compared to those who never had the condition before.

What Are Available Treatments?

H2 Blockers - If drugs are necessary, a doctor may prescribe antacids and H2 blockers. These medications mainly act to neutralize acid levels in the stomach and reduce discomfort. However, there are other kinds of treatment that can be applied during pregnancy. These include lifestyle changes such as having a special diet, elevating the head while sleeping, and staying fit.

Considerations - Treatment for acid reflux during pregnancy is often more challenging because most medications are not recommended to pregnant women. The welfare of both the mother and unborn child is often the focus when doctors recommend medication. Furthermore, drug interaction may occur if the pregnant woman is already taking other drugs. Treatment for acid reflux and pregnancy is either a good or bad combination. This is why you should always speak with your doctor first for the most suitable treatment for you.
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