When you’re done eating a big meal and you find yourself reflexively reaching for an antacid to relieve the pain that may come with the heartburn that follows, it may be time to consider new ways to manage your acid reflux. While taking over-the-counter medications is ok from time to time, it’s not a good habit.
Acid reflux occurs when your stomach contents flow backward into your esophagus instead of down to your stomach to be digested. It happens as a result of the lower esophageal sphincter, a small flap that prevents food backflow, malfunctioning. The stomach acid that comes up can cause a burning sensation in addition to a sour taste of regurgitated stomach contents. While suffering from acid reflux, also commonly called heartburn, is common, it can also progress to a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD presents with acid reflux as a symptom, but can also result in long-term or permanent irritation of the stomach lining, as well as serious health issues like asthma, laryngitis, tooth erosion, and chronic sinus infections.
Here are four ideas you can integrate into your daily life to both manage the intensity of the symptoms of acid reflux as well as lower the instances of it happening.
1. Watch What You Eat
While the symptoms of acid reflux can come at any point in your day, it’s most likely to happen right after eating. The frequency and intensity of the pain and burning sensation depend on what and how you are eating. You should limit yourself and focus on smaller meals more often, as eating slowly will typically cause you to eat less. Large meals can often trigger the symptoms of acid reflux. Not only should you be concerned about the size and frequency of your meals, but you should also be watching what you’re eating. Fatty foods, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and ones that are heavily seasoned can be a trigger for many.
Not only is the quantity and food you’re eating important, but timing can also make a big difference. Your best bet is to eat more than three hours prior to bedtime since your stomach produces the most acid immediately following meals. Laying down can cause the acid to more easily escape through the lower esophageal sphincter, thus making the symptoms more intense.
2. Pay Attention To What You’re Drinking
If you suffer from acid reflux, you should primarily drink water. Acidic beverages like juices or carbonated sodas can make the reflux worse. Additionally, caffeinated drinks can trigger your symptoms.
3. Get Moving
Although it may require a lifestyle change for some, implementing a regular exercise routine will pay off in multiple ways. Staying active can help with your digestive system as well as aid in any weight loss you’re trying to accomplish. If you choose to go for a walk after eating a meal instead of laying down or relaxing, you should see a reduction in symptoms of acid reflux.
4. Stop Smoking And Drinking
Alcohol and smoking both aggravate heartburn symptoms. Alcohol can also irritate the food pipe and increase the production of stomach acid. Both habits can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to malfunction, increasing instances of acid reflux symptoms. Finally, smoking actually makes saliva less effective at neutralizing stomach acid.
When Should I See A Doctor?
If you only experience the symptoms of acid reflux every now and then, you should be able to manage at home with the above-mentioned lifestyle changes and home remedies. If it starts to become more regular, or more painful, you should make an appointment to see one of our doctors who can help you with coping mechanisms to lessen the occurrences and common symptoms of acid reflux. If you start to observe more serious symptoms like chest pain, vomiting blood, red or black stools, unexplained weight loss, choking while you’re eating, or difficulty swallowing, you should visit us immediately.