Can Acid Reflux Cause Headaches And Dizziness
Can Acid Reflux Cause Headaches And Dizziness? Have you ever experienced chronic dizziness? Or perhaps even constant nausea? Do these symptoms make it difficult to function normally in your daily life? If so, you may be one of many people who suffer from migraines or severe headaches. But there’s some interesting research out there about how acid reflux might also play an important role in causing both symptoms.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acids bubble up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the stomach to the mouth) and then back down again. The condition is called gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). This happens because the lower esophageal sphincter muscle at the bottom of the esophagus doesn’t close tightly enough.
Normally, this muscle should keep stomach contents from moving back up into the esophagus. When it relaxes, however, stomach fluids can slip through and return to the throat and lungs, where they cause inflammation and pain.
Heartburn is usually mild, but if left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious problems like chest pains, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, sore throat, coughing, asthma attacks, pneumonia and cancer. In fact, GERD has become such a widespread health issue that it is now estimated that approximately 10 percent of American adults are affected by it. One of the biggest factors contributing to its spread is our increasingly sedentary lifestyles — we don’t move as much, which means that we don’t exercise the muscles responsible for keeping us upright.
In addition, stress and anxiety can worsen GERD by increasing gastric juices production. Also, taking certain medications can trigger GERD. Some common examples include aspirin, antacids containing magnesium or calcium ions, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, corticosteroids, antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol, tobacco products and grapefruit juice. Finally, obesity and smoking can also raise the risk of having GERD.
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why people develop GERD. However, what most doctors know is that migraine and headache sufferers often experience acid reflux, too. So could GERD actually be causing their suffering? Read on to find out.
Headache Caused By Acid Reflux
According to the Mayo Clinic, only about half of all patients with heartburn report any associated chest pain, while just 8 percent complain of shortness of breath. It’s easy to understand why many people aren’t bothered by the discomfort of regular acid reflux; after all, it isn’t nearly as bad as other types of GERD symptoms. Still, though, not everyone has the same tolerance for the effects of GERD.
If you’re among those who do feel the full force of acid reflux, you may notice that you get frequent bouts of headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating and gas. You may also have trouble sleeping, especially if you lie down right after eating. For others, heartburn seems to be the main symptom.
But did you know that acid reflux can also cause migraines? A 2006 study published in the Journal of Neurology reports that 24 of 37 participants had migraines before being diagnosed with acid reflux. Eighteen of these participants were women. Only three men reported premonitory symptoms. Researchers believe that since the female participants tended to be younger than the male ones, estrogen levels may reduce sensitivity to the pain caused by acid reflux [Source: Schreiber]. Other studies suggest that acid reflux itself triggers migraine activity.
So far, researchers haven’t found conclusive links between acid reflux and headaches in children, although acid reflux does seem to increase the chances of developing migraines later in life. What’s more, there is no cure for migraines, and acid reflux can flare up at any time during the day. As a result, many migraine sufferers try to minimize their consumption of foods known to aggravate their symptoms like chocolate, cheese, hot peppers, citrus fruits, coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, fried food, fatty meats and high-fat content snacks.
The good news is that acid reflux can be controlled without medication. Many patients use lifestyle changes including avoiding spicy foods, smoking cessation, weight loss programs and making sure that they eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of four big feasts. Others choose natural remedies, such as probiotics (good bacteria), digestive enzymes and herbal supplements.
To learn more about acid reflux and related topics, explore the links on the following page.
It’s true that some migraineurs experience acid reflux — sometimes quite frequently. Why? Migraine sufferers tend to avoid foods that contain fats and oils, caffeine, nicotine, nitrates, and red meat. These foods are commonly considered “trigger” foods for migraines. Reducing or eliminating these kinds of foods can help control acid reflux.
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