Before resorting to drugs for controlling gastroesophageal reflux, a few lifestyle changes are worth trying.
That's the muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach, and when it doesn't close completely, stomach acid and food flow back into the esophagus. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux; the backward flow of acid is called acid reflux.
Acid reflux can cause sore throats and hoarseness and may leave a bad taste in the mouth. When acid reflux produces chronic symptoms, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn—pain in the upper abdomen and chest.
Get rid of acid reflux
If you've been having repeated heartburn—or any other symptoms of acid reflux—you might try the following:
- Eat slowly
When the stomach is complete, there can be more reflux into the esophagus. Try eating small meals more frequently rather than three large meals daily.
- Avoid certain foods habits
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, try eliminating them to see if doing so controls your reflux, and then try adding them back one by one.
- Avoid drinking carbonated beverages
They make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus. Drink flat water instead of sparkling water.
- Stay up after eating
When you're standing or even sitting, gravity helps keep acid in the stomach where it belongs. Finish eating three hours before you go to bed.
- Don't move vigorously
Avoid vigorous exercise for a few hours after eating. An after-dinner stroll is fine, but a more workout can send acid into your esophagus, especially if it involves bending over.
- Lose weight
Increased weight spreads the muscular structure that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that holds the sphincter closed and leading to reflux and heartburn.
- Quit smoke
Nicotine may relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Check your Prescribed medications
Postmenopausal estrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers can relax the sphincter. In contrast, others, particularly bisphosphonates like alendronate, ibandronate, or risedronate, which are taken to increase bone density, can irritate the esophagus.
If these steps aren't practical or you have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor and consult Dr. Aditya Shah, a top Gastroenterologist in Chennai, to rule out other causes. You may also need medication to control reflux even as you pursue lifestyle changes.