Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – or to you and me: acid reflux – is a super common digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid and stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach). In people with acid reflux, a muscle in the lower esophagus may weaken or relax abnormally, allowing stomach acid to enter. Chronic or severe acid reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus over time, leading to other medical complications. But how can you get rid of it?
Make Dietary Changes
To help with the discomfort of acid reflux, it is important for you to identify and remove trigger foods and beverages from your diet. You may be disappointed to hear that a variety of foods including spicy dishes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty or fried foods can make symptoms worse.
As well as this, you can opt for smaller, more frequent meals that can help prevent overloading the stomach, reducing the risk of acid reflux episodes. Additionally, refraining from eating within 2-3 hours before bedtime allows the stomach time to digest food before lying down, minimizing nighttime symptoms. Overall, a well-balanced diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods while avoiding triggers can play a pivotal role in effectively managing acid reflux and promoting digestive health.
To help assist with dietary changes, you can use dietary supplements. Helicobacter pylori, often abbreviated as H. pylori, is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach lining and is known to play a role in various gastrointestinal conditions, including acid reflux and peptic ulcers. Knowing how to treat H Pylori naturally through food supplements or dietary changes, rather than relying solely on medication can be super effective in alleviating your symptoms. Dietary supplements offer additional support to your digestive system.
For instance, ginger supplements or ginger tea can have natural anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe irritation in the oesophagus and reduce symptoms. Slippery elm supplements, available in various forms, can provide a coating effect on the lining of the oesophagus, potentially offering relief from discomfort. There are also calcium carbonate supplements which can provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acid. However, it’s important to note that dietary supplements should be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, lifestyle modifications and medications prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Adjust Your Lifestyle
As well as adjusting your lifestyle through dietary changes, there are other essential methods you should implement in your daily life to help reduce acid reflux and improve your digestive health. I know that it may seem like every bit of advice for any problem in your life is to ensure that you are regularly exercising, but that is because it generally works in helping your bodily functions. In this case, exercising more can help to alleviate pressure on the stomach, reducing the likelihood of acid reflux episodes.
A more simple change to make can be to elevate the head of your bed by about 6-8 inches to help prevent nighttime reflux. You could also avoid tight-fitting clothing and quit smoking to relieve symptoms. Finally, managing stress through techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can complement these lifestyle changes, promoting better digestive comfort and well-being.
Medications play a crucial role in reducing acid reflux symptoms and providing relief to individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). There are several types of medications available for this purpose:
- Antacids, available over the counter, work by neutralizing stomach acid to provide immediate but short-term relief from heartburn and indigestion.
- H2 receptor blockers, like ranitidine or famotidine, reduce stomach acid production and can offer more lasting relief.
- For more severe or chronic cases, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole or lansoprazole, are prescribed to significantly decrease acid production over an extended period. PPIs are highly effective but should be used under a doctor’s guidance due to potential side effects with long-term use.
These medications can be a valuable part of a comprehensive treatment plan when lifestyle changes alone do not provide sufficient relief, and they can help prevent complications associated with uncontrolled acid reflux. However, their use should always be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure proper dosage and monitoring.
Consult a Doctor
Speaking with a doctor is very important when dealing with acid reflux – or any health condition for that matter – for several reasons. Firstly, acid reflux symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and what works for one individual may not be suitable for another. A healthcare provider can assess your specific symptoms, medical history, and overall health to tailor a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs. Secondly, acid reflux, if left untreated or improperly managed, can lead to complications such as esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, or even esophageal cancer. Early detection and appropriate treatment can mitigate these risks. Additionally, some medications used to manage acid reflux, such as proton pump inhibitors, should be administered under medical supervision due to potential side effects and interactions with other medications.
So, if you experience persistent or severe acid reflux symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, or if it disrupts your daily life, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Additionally, if you notice any concerning signs such as unintended weight loss, blood in your vomit or stool, or waking up frequently during the night due to acid reflux, then seeking medical attention is crucial. If your symptoms do not improve with initial treatments or if you have any complications, your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist for further evaluation and specialized care.
Hopefully, you have learned some new ways to help manage your acid reflux. Remember that trying a combination of techniques may be more effective; whether that’s using dietary supplements alongside some lifestyle changes (such as regularly exercising), or perhaps consulting a doctor and trying medication. Don’t let this disruptive and uncomfortable bodily function control your life and take some proactive steps to improve your day-to-day life