9 Ways to Prevent and Relieve Acid Reflux

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Love extra-spicy chicken wings and sweet cupcakes but hate the nasty heartburn and bad taste they leave behind? You may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from acid reflux.


What is acid reflux?



When esophageal sphincter — the muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach — doesn't close completely, stomach acid and food in your stomach move back into the esophagus and result in the sensation of heartburn in the middle of the chest. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux, and the backward flow of acid is called acid reflux.


Acid reflux can cause sore throats, hoarseness and a bad taste in your mouth. When acid reflux produces chronic symptoms, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or GERD.


Acid reflux may be due to poor clearance of food or acid from the esophagus, too much acid in the stomach, and delayed stomach emptying. Treatment options include medications. But changing lifestyle can also significantly reduce your symptoms of acid reflux!


1. Eat sparingly and slowly



Acid reflux usually increases when your stomach is full, and larger meals seem to make the problem worse. Try to eat small meals more frequently rather than three large meals daily.


2. Avoid certain foods


Some foods are more likely to trigger reflux, including mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol. If you eat any of these foods regularly, you might try eliminating them to see if doing so can control your acid reflux.


3. Don't drink carbonated beverages



Carbonated soft drinks are associated with increased acid reflux symptoms. They can make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus. Try to drink less or avoiding them altogether. Drink flat water instead.


4. Stay up after eating


When you're standing or even sitting, gravity can help keep acid in your stomach. Don’t eat within three hours before going to bed. You should also avoid naps after lunch.


5. Don't move too fast


Avoid vigorous exercise for a couple of hours after eating. You can stroll after dinner, but don’t do intense activity involving bending over, which can send acid into your esophagus.


6. Sleep on an incline



Ideally, your head should be 6 to 8 inches higher than your feet. You can try a foam wedge to support your upper body. Don't try to create a wedge by stacking pillows. They won't meet your need.


7. Lose weight if it's advised


Increased weight spreads the muscular structure that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that holds the sphincter closed. This leads to reflux and heartburn.


8. Quit smoking



Nicotine may relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can lead to reflux and heartburn.


9. Check your medications


Some medicines can relax the sphincter and irritate the esophagus. Consult your doctor if the medicine you take may contribute to acid reflux. If possible, change another medicine.


If the steps above can’t relieve your condition or if you have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, you’d better go to your doctor and see if there are other causes.

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These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.