After binging on spicy pizza or greasy onion rings, anyone can suffer from occasional indigestion resulting in acid reflux. That’s the uncomfortable — sometimes painful — condition when your stomach acid, and even food, creep back up into your esophagus. But if you get hit with heartburn a couple times a week or more, you may be experiencing a chronic form of called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
If you live in or near the Fairfax or South Riding, Virginia, communities, you’re in luck. Dr. Chethana Rao at Prima Medicine is an expert on acid reflux. She can help you solve your acid reflux issues with fast-acting medications, long-term treatments, or both.
Meanwhile, there are some simple ways you may be able to ease your own symptoms. Here are 7 lifestyle changes that may reduce or eliminate your acid reflux symptoms.
1. Watch what you eat
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth noting. Certain foods are known to cause gastrointestinal problems in some people, and if you’re one of them, you need to know the culprits. The most notableare: spicy foods, onions, tomatoes, chocolate, garlic, tea and coffee, fatty foods, mint, and alcohol.
2. Ban the bubbles
If you suffer from acid reflux, you may need to kick the can. Carbonation — whether in soda, water, or beer — causes stomach acid to bubble up into your throat. It’s best to eliminate soda and all bubbly beverages until you know whether carbonation is your friend or foe.
3. Change your sleep position
When you sleep on your back, acid easily flows from your stomach to your esophagus. If you find that your heartburn hits you in the middle of the night, this could be your problem. Try propping the head of your bed up with bed frame leg extenders, or buy a foam wedge that will keep your head higher than your feet.
4. Skip the after-dinner workout
While a leisurely stroll around the block is a pleasant way to end a meal and actually aids digestion, a strenuous workout can do just the opposite. If your routine involves bending and lifting, you’re actually encouraging stomach acid to make its way back up and into your esophagus.
5. Shed some pounds
If you’re overweight, losing some of the excess fat is good for many reasons. But if you’re overweight AND suffer from acid reflux, losing some pounds could solve your problem.
First, being overweight puts you at risk for a hiatal hernia — when the top part of your stomach bulges through up your diaphragm — a known cause of GERD.
Second, a 2012 medical study showed that the more weight subjects lost, the more they reduced their Online Medicine Shopping GERD symptoms. Specifically, women who lost 5-10% of their body weight and men who lost 10% had improvement in their acid reflux problems.
One of the main causes of acid reflux is overeating. When your stomach is too full, it’s very easy for acid and food to flow upward. Try eating smaller meals throughout the day, rather than gorging on big feasts. If you can retrain yourself to stop eating before your brain registers “full,” you may be able to control your acid reflux.
7. Don’t eat and sleep
You may be able to conquer your acid reflux by simply changing your bedtime. People who go to bed too soon after dinner often report increased instances of heartburn (which actually has nothing to do with the heart, but sure can feel like it). Give gravity a chance to do its thing and keep that acid in your stomach where it belongs. Take a stroll around the block or at least sit upright and watch TV or read a while before turning in.