by Judy Chaney
ccording to the International Foundation
for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFGD), Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, also known as Acid Reflux is very common, affecting 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Acid Reflux happens when the lower esophageal sphincter, the passage between the esophagus and the stomach, doesn’t close completely and then acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus causing irritation. Other potential causes include obesity, smoking, diet and pregnancy. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. If you’ve been having repeated episodes of heartburn—or any other symptoms of acid reflux—you may want to try the following tips to reduce acid reflux.
- Eat slowly. Give your body time to get alert that you are full. You can also try eating smaller meals more frequently.
- Avoid certain foods. Some foods are more likely than others to trigger reflux, including mint, fatty foods, spicy foods,
tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate and alcohol. Some have tried and had success with an elimination diet where you eliminate all of the trigger foods and then add them back in one at a time every few days or so to see if your symptoms come back. If a food triggers your symptoms again, you know that it is a food you should avoid.
- Don’t drink carbonated beverages. Bubbles make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus causing more irritation.
- Stay upright after eating. Gravity will help keep acid in the stomach. Stand or sit after eating. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed and when you do, sleep on an incline. Your head should be 6-8 inches higher than your feet. You can try adding a pillow or platforms to lift the top of the bed.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.
- Cut back on alcohol. As with smoking, alcohol can cause the sphincter to relax or cause muscle spasms.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach causing acid to flow back into your esophagus.
- Wear loose fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid vigorous exercise for a couple of hours after eating. Bending over repeatedly or jumping around can cause acid to go back into your esophagus.
- Review your medications with your doctor. A number of medications can increase your risk of GERD such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, certain asthma medications and some vitamins or supplements.