With some lifestyle and diet modifications, many people can find relief from their acid reflux symptoms. However, if you continue to have frequent and severe episodes, it is important to speak to your doctor about potential treatments.
How to Get Rid of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is widespread among the population. Many suffer from it regularly. It is related to our diet, our wider health, and our lifestyle. It is a notably uncomfortable and potentially dangerous condition caused by the contents of the stomach entering the esophagus. You will almost always notice it, so do not ignore it. If left untreated, it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and other stomach and gut related complications.
Fortunately, it is treatable and largely avoidable. If you follow this advice, you will limit its occurrence.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Eating certain foods and drinks, such as spicy, fatty, or acidic items
Acid reflux is primarily dietary. Spicy, fatty or acidic foods are the main agents that cause it, but it can also be caused by eating too quickly, as the body is not then given time to digest and neutralize acids.
These foods, and eating too quickly, can decrease the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, which then allows stomach acid to move from the stomach into the esophagus more easily. This is readily avoidable if you eat more carefully and slowly, and do not overload your stomach with trigger foods.
Eating too large of a meal
Overeating is not your stomach’s friend. Your stomach does not like being overfull. It can lead to
an intense burning sensation or a feeling of pressure in your chest. If you feel that, it is very likely acid reflux in action. Eating too large a meal, and eating it too quickly, puts too much sudden extra pressure on your stomach, and the stomach responds by forcing the acid to flow backwards back up into the esophagus.
Eating smaller meals throughout the day and choosing lighter, healthier options therefore minimizes this risk and helps your stomach digest its food and neutralize the acid content. Be very mindful, therefore, of portion sizes.
Smoking is pretty much a universal bad! It is certainly a potential cause of acid reflux. This is due to the deleterious and harmful effects of smoking on the esophageal lining. Smoking can damage the cells that make up the lining of your esophagus, and it can also cause the sphincter at the base of the stomach to relax too much, which then enables stomach acid to rise back up into the esophagus.
Check elsewhere on Healthnile for our articles on How to Quit Smoking and How to Quit Vaping. These will help you transform your lifestyle.
Being overweight or obese
Obesity, or even being moderately overweight, affects the workings of your stomach. Be aware that people who are at a higher risk of developing GERD – that’s Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, which is an extended form of acid reflux – are disproportionately those who are overweight. More specifically, it is not just about your overall weight, but about where the excess fat is located on your body. A fatter midriff is bad news for your health. There are no health benefits to carrying too much weight around your stomach. If you want to avoid or lower your risk of acid reflux or GERD, then you should keep control of your weight.
So much happens to your body during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time for a lot of women, with a host of physical and emotional changes. But one condition that can add to this and reduce the quality of your life, if you are pregnant, is acid reflux.
If you are pregnant, take extra care to eat smaller meals more regularly throughout the day, and shun foods and drinks that aggravate the symptoms. In addition, if possible, avoid lying down soon after meals. Many also find that sleeping on their left side makes a positive difference and reduces any occurrences of acid reflux. This is relevant advice for all.
Consuming certain medications
Some prescription medicines have side-effects, one of which is quite often acid reflux, so check carefully if your acid reflux episodes coincide with taking any particular meds. Your doctor will be able to assess comparative risks and determine whether there are other options for you.
Eating smaller meals more frequently
After any heavy or big meal, even a large stomach can feel bloated. A smaller stomach can feel very uncomfortable indeed. Such a situation makes acid reflux much likelier. By taking in smaller amounts of food, your body digests it more easily and breaks it down to extract as much nutritional benefit as possible, while also ensuring that it neutralizes acids. Adapt your diet and eat smaller portions. Eating smaller portions 4 or 5 times a day is better for your stomach than eating larger meals twice a day. You may not need to lower your caloric intake. In fact, it’s rarely necessary. You merely need to adapt the methodology by which you structure your mealtimes and food intake.
Avoiding trigger foods and drinks
Acid reflux is fundamentally about some foods, and not others. If you are experiencing it often,
make a note of what you ate and how long afterwards the reflux came. Over time, you’ll be able to build up a picture of which foods cause acid reflux in you, and in what quantity you are eating them prior to any episode. This can be really valuable information, as it can help you to identify and avoid your trigger foods.
Keeping a food diary can help you to better understand your body and how it responds to certain foods, giving you the power to manage or even eliminate acid reflux, potentially for good. Though it takes focus to keep a food diary, the rewards to your health are potentially huge.
Not eating too close to bedtime
Generally speaking, eating near bedtime is a bad idea, and yet our lives are often built around a large evening meal. This is not really terribly healthy and it can put undue pressure on the body just as the body is about to rest. It also means your body must digest food without your body actually expending much energy as it does so. Try not to eat anything two to three hours before going to sleep. That way, your digestion won’t be working overtime as you lie down for the night. Even adding an extra hour between when you eat and when you bed down can make a big difference and reduce the occasions when you may experience any acid reflux.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Excess weight is a bad thing if you want to live an optimally healthy life. To avoid being fat or overweight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Eating smaller portions and far fewer processed foods helps. In addition, you will have less acid reflux if you exercise regularly and allow your body to feel in control of life, instead of having it as just a passive recipient of food. In addition, be very aware of your posture. Slouching or hunching over can put extra strain on your digestive system, so try to sit up straight. This is among the reasons that gym-stretching, yoga, or pilates classes should be built into your daily life. (See below.)
Limiting alcohol consumption
When it comes to drinking alcohol, it can unquestionably aggravate acid reflux if it is consumed excessively. As with food, be moderate in your intake. Alcohol increases the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and this causes stomach acid to travel up your esophagus and give you the painful surge of reflux. There are many reasons for cutting back on alcohol, but one of them is certainly to limit the occurrence of acid reflux.
As we said earlier when we looked at Causes of Acid Reflux, smoking is certainly a potential cause of acid reflux. This is due to the deleterious and harmful effects of smoking to the esophageal lining and to the fact that smoking damages cells there. It can also cause the sphincter at the base of the stomach to relax too much, which then enables stomach acid to rise back up into the esophagus.
Many people do not instinctively connect smoking with acid reflux, but there really is a correlation between nicotine and stomach acid problems. This is because smoking increases acid production and when you couple this to the fact that smoking relaxes the muscles between your stomach and your esophagus, the problem becomes obvious.
Check elsewhere on Healthnile for our articles on How to Quit Smoking and How to Quit Vaping. These will help you transform your lifestyle. But as a quick taster, some headline advice would be to give yourself deadlines and keep track of your progress as you seek to stop. Secondly, get support from family and friends to aid you in sticking with your aim. Thirdly, turn to nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches or gum. And if you need help in kicking the habit for good, consider seeking professional advice from your doctor or a smoking cessation specialist.
With dedication and passion, you can be successful in your journey to a smoke-free life – and, of course, relief from acid reflux. Check out How to Quit Smoking to learn more.
Practicing yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques
These approaches are part of how we respect and control our bodies. They are excellent ways to bring balance and harmony to your body, mind and spirit. This approach to life makes it far less likely that you will overindulge or overeat in the first place, thus reducing the number of occasions when acid reflux might arise.
It is essential to sleep well. Research suggests that a lack of restorative sleep can increase acid reflux symptoms the following day, as the body has not reached a state of equilibrium. Getting 7-9 hours every night is important if you want to maintain overall health and wellbeing.
One of the best ways to get rid of or modify the negative effects of acid reflux is to take antacids. They come in a variety of brands and often come in chewable tablets or powder. Many of them are tasty and not at all unpleasant. These work by neutralizing the excess acid in your stomach, allowing the symptoms of the acid reflux to subside.
Antacids are available over-the-counter, so no prescription is needed. They have a good safety track record, and don’t usually cause serious side effects. Just make sure to follow the directions on the label.
Try baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and ginger tea.
Baking soda is a natural antacid which can neutralize stomach acid and help settle an upset stomach. Similarly, apple cider vinegar can help balance the acid levels in your stomach. Finally, ginger tea is a soothing option which can help ease nausea and reduce inflammation. These three remedies are entirely natural and easy to administer. In addition, ginger tea and apple cider vinegar have other health benefits, so they are worth having to hand at home.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
PPIs are a type of medication commonly used to treat acid reflux. They work by decreasing the amount of acid in your stomach, but before you embark on using them, talk to a medical professional, as they are not designed to be used long term.
H2 blockers block histamine receptors in your digestive tract, which has the effect of reducing the amount of stomach acid produced. This naturally can assist in relieving painful symptoms of acid reflux, while also ensuring there is less susceptibility in your digestive tract to any associated damage. They are available without prescription, so talk to your pharmacist.
Prokinetics are medications that help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, which then stops stomach acid from coming back up into the esophagus.
In addition, they have further benefits when it comes to treating reflux, as prokinetics can help speed up the process of digestion and reduce the frequency and potency of any reflux that might occur. Additionally, they can help stimulate the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, which helps the food move through more quickly.
Foaming agents, like baking soda and certain antacids, are a great way to get rid of acid reflux. As they dissolve in liquids, they form a foam that acts as a protective barrier against stomach acid coming back up into your esophagus. They are easy to use and available everywhere.
Because they are alkaline, acid is neutralized, and it means food can pass through the digestive system more smoothly.
Let’s be clear, there are very few people who suffer from acid reflux who ever need surgery. This is only ever an option in serious cases. Nonetheless, for those who have major stomach reflux issues, it is worth being aware.
Though it sounds rather intimidating, this is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that tightens and reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent acid reflux. It also reconstructs part of the stomach to increase pressure on the LES, which has the overall effect of relieving symptoms like acid reflux and belching.
It is not usually a complicated procedure and it typically takes a couple of hours. It involves the insertion of a thin tube containing a camera and surgical instruments through very small incisions in the abdomen. The recovery times are usually around two weeks, but the effects may take a few weeks longer before they are fully felt and the acid reflux has gone.
Through the use of specialized tools, an endoscopic treatment can help to identify the underlying cause of your acid reflux and then address it directly. This type of treatment typically involves passing an endoscope into the stomach and allowing a doctor to closely examine the lining and surrounding area. They may even be able to take a biopsy or perform some form of minor surgery to correct the issue. Endoscopic treatments are minimally invasive and relatively safe. However, as with any medical procedure, it’s important you discuss your options with your doctor first to determine if this is the best course of action for you.