Tips to Control Acid Reflux

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)—whatever you want to call it, is a pain! Triggered by an increase in the acid produced in your stomach, the acid splashes up the esophagus and causes discomfort. Left untreated, besides being very uncomfortable, it can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus. If you experience the occasional acid reflux, check out the suggestions below. If you are experiencing regular problems with acid reflux, see your doctor for an evaluation of the cause and proper medical treatment as well as discussing lifestyle changes that may help.

The cause of acid reflux is unknown. It can develop for a variety of reasons. By looking at the many causes, you can see what lifestyle change is appropriate to eliminate or mitigate the problem of acid reflux.

  • Stomach abnormalities such as hiatal hernias

  • Pregnancy due to increasing levels of hormones combined with pressure from the growing fetus. This usually goes away immediately after the baby is born!

  • Smoking:

  • Damaging mucus membranes

  • Weakens the esophagus

  • Impairing muscle reflexes in the throat

  • Increasing acid secretion

  • Reducing LES muscle function

  • Reducing salivation which neutralizes the effect of acid

  • Eating acidic foods: Common foods that can contribute to acid reflux but avoid any foods you identify as the cause of your acid reflux:

  • Alcohol—limit drinks to no more than 1-2 per day

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons

  • Coffee and tea (regular or decaffeinated)

  • Fatty or fried foods

  • Foods containing tomato or tomato sauce

  • Garlic and onions

  • Mint

  • Spicy foods such as those containing chili or curry

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Eating large meals or lying down after eating a meal

  • Snacking close to bedtime

Lifestyle change suggestions to lessen acid reflux:

  • Elevate the head of the bed 4-6 inches or try sleeping in a recliner

  • Don’t eat 2-3 hours before lying down

  • Eat frequent small meals. Add fiber to help you feel full and keep you regular. Eat slowly so your mind registers that your stomach is full.

  • Avoid the foods that trigger your acid reflux

  • Stay hydrated. Fluids help your body rid itself of waste and keep you regular.

  • Chew gum! That tells your body to produce saliva which will balance the acid. Peppermint or spearmint can irritate so pick another flavor!

  • If you are overweight, lose weight!

  • Don’t wear tight clothing or tight belts

  • Exercise

  • Quit smoking and limit or eliminate alcohol from your daily routine.

  • Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could be the cause of your acid reflux

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