12 Easy Ways to Rid Yourself of Acid Reflux

Healthy low fat pita dip for acid reflux
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After the holidays, I am inundated with questions from my patients as to how they can stop their heartburn. After multiple dinner parties, special drinks, and delicious food, my patients tend to experience more symptoms of acid reflux. So, I've decided to key you in on the things to do, or not do, to help your heartburn throughout the year.

Why Do Symptoms Occur?

Reflux occurs when stomach acid or stomach content flows backward into your esophagus.

Patients usually describe this phenomenon as heartburn. Heartburn is very common and actually may not be considered part of a disease. However, longstanding frequent heartburn and reflux can irritate the lining of your esophagus and cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Heartburn is generally a treatable problem. Most of the time, patients can manage their symptoms with lifestyle and diet modification. There are also over-the-counter medications, which help reduce symptoms. However, some people may need stronger treatment or even surgical procedures to overcome chronic heartburn.

Although reflux is considered a treatable disease, inappropriate treatment can bring up serious complications in the long-term. If you experience the symptoms of acid reflux, consult with a doctor first to get an accurate diagnosis and receive effective treatment. 

Here are 12 simple strategies that can help you minimize your symptoms.

Keep in mind "The Rule of Fours," four key points during the day, while you eat, and after your meal to reduce acid reflux symptoms.

Four things to Do Throughout the Day

  1. Stay Active: Try to stick to an exercise routine. Although it may be tough to fit in the time for working out, it is definitely worth it. Weight loss mitigates reflux symptoms.
  1. Do Not Smoke: One of the underlying causes of reflux is weakness of the muscles in the stomach and esophagus. Nicotine is a substance that can cause this weakness. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke at parties and other events if possible.
  2. Do not eat late at night: This may be difficult at dinner parties, since many run late into the night, but try to stick to eating any heavy foods and your main meals earlier in the day. Eat an early, light meal for dinner and stick to small, light snacks at late night parties.
  3. Limit your alcohol intake: Whether it’s wine at a dinner party or beer during the super bowl, any alcohol can worsen reflux.

Four Things to Do While Eating

  1. Avoid fatty appetizers: Foods such as chips, dips, cheeses, and deep fried foods slow down your stomach emptying time. This allows for more acid and stomach contents to flow back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
  2. Hydrate with water: Substitute water for soda and avoid citrus fruits and juices like grapefruit, orange, and tomato. These types of drinks cause excess acid in your stomach.
  1. Season lightly: Spicy foods, as well as things like onions and garlic, often bother people with GERD and make heartburn worse.
  2. Use smaller plates: Eating large meals can trigger symptoms, so try eating smaller meals throughout the day.

Four Things to Do After Eating

  1. Limit coffee and desserts: Chocolate and caffeine might be a favorite, but it often triggers symptoms.
  2. Slow down: Physical exertion after a meal can lead to reflux.
  3. Skip the after-dinner mint: Peppermint is another heartburn irritant.
  4. Stay awake: Eating delicious food might make you sleepy, but fight the urge to take a nap. Lying down within three hours after eating can cause acid reflux symptoms to flare up.

With these small changes, you can help your heartburn even if you suffer from GERD. Just remember The Rule of Fours and you will reduce or maybe even eliminate your acid reflux! 

Source:

Jacques AS, The week of Thanksgiving is also Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week. MDLinx. 2015.

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