What is the disease affects majority of the world population. Surely it is acid reflux. Although this may not progress up to GERD ( Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease ), acid reflux is a very famous. According to statistics about 60% of world population have experienced reflux at some time during a year. And about 20% – 30% have this once a week. Some people get a relief after drinking hot water. But some don’t. Why this happens ? Dose drinking hot water help acid reflux ?
What is Acid Reflux ?
Gastric acid, pepsin, bile reflux in to oesophagus ( food pipe ) happens in acid reflux. Oesophagus has two sphincters, upper and lower. Lower sphincter has the main contribution for acid reflux. When we take a food, lower sphincter releases. It allows the food bolus to enter in to stomach. When we don’t eat, this sphincter is closed. Most of GERD patients and about two third of acid reflux patients have impaired mechanism of this sphincter. Their lower oesophageal sphincter release even when you don’t eat.
Other than lower oesophageal sphincter, there are several factors to protect you from acid reflux.
- A flap valve mechanism in abdominal oesophagus.
- Mucosal structure act as a pinchcock.
- Secondary peristalsis to flush out stomach content in the oesophagus.
- Bicarbonate in the saliva.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Heart burn is the main feature. It’s a burning type chest pain. This pain aggravates when lying flat, bending and stooping. And typically it reduces with antacids and alginates. And alcohol and caffeine increase the symptoms. Oesophagitis or inflammation of the oesophagus is a long term effect due to acid reflux. Severe patients may develop coughing up blood and anaemia due to low iron. These are because of formation of ulcers in oesophagus.
Pain in heart muscles or heart attack and heart burn is difficult to differentiate. 20% of patients suspected heart attack have heart burn due to GERD.
Regurgitation of food content is also happens, particularly on vending forward or lying flat. Asthma and long term cough can accompany with regurgitation. Some may develop pneumonia due to aspirated food particles.
Factors Aggravate Acid Reflux
- Pregnancy or Obesity
- Fat, Chocolate, Coffee or Alcohol
- Large meals
- Cigarette smoking
- Drugs like calcium channel blockers or nitrates
- Hiatus hernia
Can Hot Water Help to Reduce Acid Reflux?
Because of the acidic pH of the stomach juice, sensory neurons in oesophagus irritate. This presents as a pain. Normally stomach juice has about pH value of 2. The main acidic compound is Hydrochloric acid ( HCl ). So what if we can reduce the acidity of stomach juice ? Drinking water has a little effect on that. Water can dilute the stomach juice. Therefore pH value increases about the value of 4. But stomach is a very good water absorbing organ. So the most of the water we drink get absorbed within 5 minutes. Because of that the effect of water won’t last long.
Compared with that antacids contain alkaline agents give longer duration of relief. But they act somewhat slower compared with water.
The other benefit of water is, it lubricates the food we eat. It facilitates the swallowing process. But there are some contradictory points regarding this. The more water we drink, more stomach acids get diluted. Because of that the digestion of food can be delayed. Delayed digestion of food is same as taking a large meal. More meal collection in our stomach make them to regurgitate.
Some may experience drinking mild hot water is soothing and reduce the pain. That’s happen because of the theory called “gate theory of pain”. It’s same as we experience rubbing a painful joint giving a relief. Gate theory of pain says that giving a more powerful stimulation than pain can reduce the feeling of pain. That’s what happens with some people.
But this won’t happen with everyone. Some people with ulcers of the oesophagus get severe pain with hot water. That’s because with the ulcer their sensory nerves are exposed. So direct contact of hot water with the nerve gives excruciating pain.
Accumulation of gas inside the stomach is one feature of acid reflux. It’s very disturbing feeling for us. Hot water can gives you some relief for this. When hot water enters into the stomach, gas tend to flushed out. You may have experienced that after drinking a hot water, burping happens. And gas collection reduces gradually.
Even though somebody tell that drinking hot water can reduce acid reflux, it’s not work for everyone. But you have to try it. Effect of the hot water depend on how severe your condition is. So it’s better use proper medication and not solely depend on hot water.