Get Rid of the Burn – 18 Tips on Curing Your Acid Reflux Disease
It is touted as one of the most common disorders experienced by Americans. By common, this means 60 percent of the adult American population will experience this condition. In 2004 alone, approximately 20 percent of the population reported this particular symptom at least weekly.
What condition is this? It goes by the name acid reflux disease.
Whether you experienced this or not, it is good to know what this disease is all about. Read along and find out everything you should know about acid reflux, plus 18 tips and treatments available to say goodbye to this medical condition.
1. Up Close and Personal with Acid Reflux Disease
Before you know how to combat acid reflux, it is important to understand what the condition is all about, as well as the mechanism behind it.
There are two main organs involved: your stomach and gastroesophageal sphincter or ring of muscle. When you eat, the ring of muscle in your esophagus opens up and let the food in your stomach. On the other hand, your stomach contains hydrochloric acid to help digest the food and protect your digestive organ against undesirable microbes.
Due to various factors, which you will learn more about below, this ring of muscle or valve fails and the stomach contents are regurgitated into your esophagus. This is acid reflux disease. In other words, it is when the acid content from your stomach flows up into your esophagus.
2. The Most Common Symptom of an Acid Reflux Condition
How will you know if acid reflux has paid you a visit?
The most common acid reflux disease symptoms of this condition is heartburn or the burning sensation on your chest area. It could also move up towards your neck and throat, thereby producing a bitter taste in your mouth.
Other acid reflux symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Feeling of tightness in your throat
The next question now is what causes acid reflux. Read the next section to find out.
3. A Most-Wanted Culprit: Get to Know the Acid Reflux Disease Causes
The truth is acid reflux is a result of your lifestyle. This means what you eat and the daily activities you do might be the culprit.
Nonetheless, some of the factors that contribute to acid reflux are:
- High intake of salt
- Lack of exercise
- Low fiber diet
- Smoking, whether active or passive
- Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamine, sedatives and painkillers
Aside from lifestyle factors, physiological abnormalities contribute to acid reflux. Some of these are:
- Hiatal hernia, although how this condition contributes to acid reflux is still unclear.
- Abnormalities in the lower esophageal sphincter or LES such as weak contraction or laxity of LES that allows easier flow from stomach to your esophagus.
- Abnormal esophageal contractions.
4. Defining Terms: Acid Reflux Vs. Heartburn Vs. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Here’s the thing: the terms, acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn are often interchanged. The truth is these three concepts are different from each other.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, with 15 million experiencing it everyday. Heartburn is the main symptom of both acid reflux disease and GERD. It comes with burning sensation behind the breastbone area that could last for several hours. It tends to worsen when you lie down or after eating a particular food.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a different situation. If you experience chronic heartburn two or more times a week and accompanied by the other acid reflux symptoms, then this is GERD.
Before you panic, keep in mind that there are acid reflux disease treatment options available to help you address this condition and prevent it from turning into GERD. Read the succeeding sections to find out the remedies available starting with simple lifestyle changes.
5. Chewing Gum: A Simple but Effective Solution to Prevent Food Regurgitation
Do you want to know a simple way to stop stomach acid from going up to your esophagus? Try chewing a piece of gum.
Chewing gum encourages the production of bicarbonate in your saliva, which also helps increase the rate of swallowing. Once you swallow the saliva, the bicarbonate helps neutralize the acid in your esophagus, thereby reducing the possibility of regurgitation.
In other words, chewing gum helps normalize the processes that neutralize acid in your esophagus to prevent the contents from going up. It is still unclear if chewing gum could relieve heartburn. Nonetheless, it won’t hurt if you chew a gum after meals
6. On a High: Elevating Your Upper Body to Stop Food from Going Up
Did you know that acid reflux is more lethal at night than during the day? This is because at night, you are lying down and gravity is not working against your reflux, which makes it easier for this condition to happen. At the same time, it is easier for refluxed liquid to travel up and stay in your esophagus longer.
There is a simple way to prevent this and allow gravity to work on your body. You can try the following:
- Put blocks under the head of the bed.
- Sleeping with your upper body on a foam rubber wedge.
It is important that your upper body and not just your head should be elevated, preferably six to eight inches. In doing so, it helps raise your esophagus above your stomach, thereby partially restoring the effects of gravity. This provides relief and benefit to reduce the frequency of reflux especially at night.
7. The Acid Reflux Disease Diet: Get to Know Your Trigger Foods
During your check up, your doctor will advise you to keep a food diary. In your food diary, you should list everything you ate during the day and take note of their effects after. This will help you keep track of acid reflux disease foods to avoid and reduce the chances of regurgitation of food.
Keep in mind that reflux is worse after meals. After eating, your stomach is distended with food and transient relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter are more frequent.
Take note of your food triggers for acid reflux. Although every person is different, here are some of the most common foods that trigger acid reflux:
- Peppermint and anything minty
- Caffeinated drinks
- Carbonated beverages
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Citrus juices
This is why your food diary is crucial. Once you identified the foods that trigger reflux, make sure you stay away from them as much as possible. Aside from watching what you eat, how you eat is also crucial whether reflux will pay a visit. Check out the next section and find out proper eating habits to minimize the possibility of acid reflux.
8. Eating Habits: Another Simple Remedy Against Acid Reflux Disease
Now that you know what foods to avoid for acid reflux disease, it’s time to evaluate your eating habits. Believe it or not, how you eat could also define whether acid reflux will say hello to you.
Aside from staying away from your triggers, check out these tips on how to minimize acid reflux:
- Eat smaller meals. Eating smaller meals means lesser distention in your stomach. At the same time, it makes it easier for your stomach to digest the food.
- Frequent meals are the key against acid reflux. Aside from eating small meals, eating frequent meals could also reduce the chances of reflux.
- Avoid lying down after every meal. This increases the chances of food going up to your esophagus because gravity is not working against reflux when you are lying down.
- Follow the three-hour rule. As much as possible, do not lie down or go to bed at least three hours after meal to allow your stomach to empty and decrease the production of acid.
Doing these simple techniques could go a long way in preventing and managing acid reflux from visiting. Read the succeeding sections to learn how else you can manage acid reflux disease.
9. Say Goodbye to Acid Reflex by Keeping Your Weight in the Healthy Range
One of the risk factors of acid reflux is obesity. This is why there is no better way of stopping this from getting worse than by losing excess weight and keeping it in its ideal range. This is because excess pounds put extra pressure on your abdomen, which could push up the acids in your stomach. This could cause acid to go back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
Therefore, lose weight and make sure you maintain an ideal one. It will take time and a truckload of commitment and dedication before you are able to trim your weight.
Nonetheless, here are some ideas that could help:
- Exercise regularly, preferably three times a week.
- Choose your foods wisely, keeping your weight loss goals in mind.
- Stay away from fatty, processed and packaged foods.
- Limit your sugar and salt intake.
- Go green by eating more greens.
Working slowly to lose weight will help a lot in curing acid reflux. Just be patient.
10. Clothes Matter: The Effects of What You Wear in Curing Acid Reflux
Aside from acid reflux home remedies mentioned above, here is another acid reflux disease treatment tip that will surely surprise you: watch what you wear.
It turns out that wearing tight fitting clothes, especially those that are tight around your waist, could contribute to acid reflux. This is because tight clothing puts extra pressure on your abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter, thereby triggering regurgitation.
As much as possible, go for loose clothes, or at least do not put too much pressure on your abdominal area. This includes wearing tight belt and doing sit up exercises.
11. Kick Stress Away From Your System – and Kiss Acid Reflux Goodbye
Apparently, eating healthy, losing excess weight and even your clothing is not enough to say goodbye to acid reflux disease. In fact, your regular routine also dictates whether acid reflux will happen.
What does this mean?
If you are under stress, then working your way out of the maze could help reduce the risk of acid reflux. Stress can make heartburn and acid reflux disease worse since it increases stomach acids.
Therefore, learn to manage stress by trying these techniques:
- Identify your stressors.
- Employ relaxation techniques to help you minimize stress.
- Take a break, whether it’s for five minutes or five days.
- Prioritize your tasks and do them according to degree of importance.
- Have an outlet such as reading a book, watching a movie, or working on a hobby or passion project.
Aside from minimizing the risk of acid reflux, managing your stress levels could be beneficial to your health as well.
12. Quit Smoking and Your Esophagus and Your Lungs Will be Happy
Does quitting from smoking giving you a hard time? In case you are looking for another reason to kick the butt, then consider this: it could help cure acid reflux disease.
The nicotine from cigarettes tends to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby making it easier for stomach acids to go up to your esophagus. At the same time, smoking decreases the LES’ ability to function properly.
The challenge now is how to quit the habit. Here are tips to help you quit smoking – and stop reflux from happening:
- Set a quit date – and make sure you stick to it.
- Inform the people around you about your plans to quit the habit. This way, they will be informed and willingly help you in your goal.
- Throw and avoid keeping any cigarette at home, in office, or even in your bag.
- Resist any temptation by chewing a gum instead. This helps prevent regurgitation from food too.
Let’s say these natural remedies for acid reflux disease were not that successful in curbing this disorder. Don’t worry. There is still hope for you. The succeeding sections will tell you about the medical options available to treat acid reflux.
13. Antacids: Your First Line of Defense against Acid Reflux Disease
Aside from lifestyle changes, one of the simplest and most effective ways to treat acid reflux is by taking antacids.
Antacids are over-the-counter treatments that help neutralize stomach acid. At the same time, it provides quick relief for acid reflux symptoms, thereby allowing you to get a good night’s sleep, at least for that night.
Here’s the thing: antacids cannot heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acids. Consequently, excessive use of antacids could cause side effects like constipation and diarrhea.
If antacids didn’t work, you can try the succeeding treatment options for acid reflux.
14. Reduce Stomach Acid with H-2 Receptor Blockers
If you want a longer relief, then H-2 receptor blockers could be your next solution. This type of medication reduces acid production for up to 12 hours, thereby providing longer relief. You can take H-2 receptor blockers either as an alternative or on a short-term basis.
What is the main issue with this type of acid reflux medication? H-2 receptor blockers, whether over-the-counter or by prescription, don’t act quickly compared to antacids. Side effects are also uncommon, although watch out for headaches, rashes, dizziness, tiredness and diarrhea.
15. A Stronger Solution: Proton Pump Inhibitors for Acid Reflux Disease Treatment
If self-help treatment and antacids or H-2 receptor blockers didn’t work, your doctor could recommend proton pump inhibitors or PPIs.
Just like H-2 receptor blockers, PPIs reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces, but the solution is stronger. At the same time, this type of medication promotes healing of damaged esophageal tissues, which makes it more effective.
Initially, your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose, which you have to take for a month to control acid reflux. Make sure you schedule a follow-up to check if you need to take PPIs on a long-term basis.
In case you’re wondering, some of the side effects include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal pain
Don’t worry, although the symptoms are usually mild, they are still worth noting.
What are the other options in case lifestyle changes and GERD medications didn’t work? The succeeding sections will tell you more about more invasive procedures to cure acid reflux.
16. Nissen Fundoplication: The Most Common Surgical Procedure to Treat Acid Reflux
One of the biggest culprits of acid reflux is weak or damaged lower esophageal sphincter. It allows food to easily go up from your stomach to esophagus and cause heartburn. Therefore, an effective way to address reflux, especially when it has evolved into gastroesophageal reflux disease is fundoplication.
Fundoplication involves wrapping the upper part of your stomach around the outside of your esophagus to tighten your LES and prevent regurgitation.
There are two ways to do this:
- Traditional – Your doctor makes a long incision in your stomach to access the esophagus.
- Laparoscopic – The surgeon makes three to four small incisions in your abdomen, which will be used to insert the instruments to tighten your lower esophageal sphincter.
Both methods work well, but if you want faster healing and recovery within two to three weeks, go for laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery.
This procedure can cost between $12,000 and $20,000, depending on your surgeon.
In case you want an even faster recovery, consider the next treatment for acid reflux disease.
17. Tighten Your Lower Esophageal Sphincter with the LINX Technique
In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a device that could help treat acid reflux and at the same time, shorten recovery period. This device is called LINX.
LINX is a permanent implant composed of a ring of tiny magnetic titanium beads that surgeons place around the junction of your esophagus and stomach. Since it is magnetic, the attraction between the beads is weak enough to open your esophagus when food needs to pass through but strong enough to keep it closed and avoid regurgitation.
If you decide to go for this procedure, your surgeon will implant the device outside the esophagus and keep it closed to prevent reflux. LINX is a minimally invasive procedure, which means you can get back to your normal routine within 24 hours after the procedure.
It is important to note that you might experience some discomfort for at least 10 to 15 days when swallowing. Nevertheless, you’ll get used to a functioning LES eventually. Even if the procedure is new, so far, the results are promising.
Apart from these two, here are other procedures you can try to treat this condition.
18. New Kids on the Block: Other Surgical Procedures to Treat Acid Reflux Disease
Even if fundoplication and LINX device work, your body might not be able to respond well to these procedures. Thankfully, there are new alternative procedures you can try to cure this condition.
Below are some of your other options:
- Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication or TIF – This procedure creates a barrier between the stomach and your esophagus using a device called EsophyX. This device creates a fold in your esophagus to form a new valve. However, this works best when acid reflux is still at its early stage.
- Stretta – In this procedure, your surgeon uses an endoscope to thread into your esophagus and create small cuts to form scars. These scars serve as blockage against refluxed acid that goes up into your esophagus.
- EndoCinch – This procedure is similar to Stretta wherein an endoscope will be used to create stitches on the LES. These stitches will form into pleats and strengthen your esophagus.
Here’s the catch: these procedures are still new and still require further studies to ensure its safety. At the same time, your insurance provider may not cover any of the procedures, so better keep your wallet ready.
At the onset, acid reflux might not be alarming to you. To be safe, don’t wait for this condition to happen frequently and get even worse. These 18 tips on how to cure acid reflux disease will help you in managing your condition.
Nonetheless, prevention is and always be, far better than a cure. Watch what you eat, lose weight, take note of your food triggers, and quit smoking. Take note of proper eating habits as well to minimize acid from going up into your esophagus.