simple ways to prevent acid reflux and GERD

21 Simple Ways to Prevent Acid Reflux | Health Guide

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Ever experience a burning sensation in your chest or heartburn, usually after eating? Does it seem to be worse at night? What about regurgitation of food or sour liquid? These are just a couple of symptoms of acid reflux or GERD (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease). In this post, I will share easy ways to prevent acid reflux and how to enjoy your life to the fullest!

What is acid reflux?

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Acid reflux is a chronic condition and occurs when stomach acid or bile seeps into the food pipe and irritates the lining. If you have acid reflux or heartburn more than twice a week, you may have GERD.

GERD (chronic acid reflux) happens when your stomach acid persistently flows back up into your mouth through your esophagus. You may experience heartburn, acid indigestion, trouble swallowing, feeling of food caught in your throat, and other problems.

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What is acid reflux? It’s that burning discomfort in the chest that comes after eating and increases when lying down are common symptoms. Changes in lifestyle and over-the-counter drugs usually provide short relief. It’s possible that stronger medication is required.

Are acid reflux and GERD the same thing?

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Although acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are closely linked, they are not the same.

The backward flow of stomach acid into the tube that connects your throat to your stomach is known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) (esophagus). You may get a burning sensation in your chest during an acid reflux attack (heartburn). If you’re thinking about ways to prevent acid reflux, this can happen after a large meal or after drinking coffee or alcohol.

So, are acid reflux and GERD the same thing? The answer is that they are very similar, but GERD has more acute symptoms.

Acid reflux can sometimes progress to GERD, a more severe form of reflux. Frequent heartburn — two or more times per week — is the most common symptom of GERD. Regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night — are some of the other indications and symptoms.

How common is acid reflux?

ways to prevent acid reflux

Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic digestive disorder that affects roughly 20% of adults and children in the United States.

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GERD is a painful condition in which stomach acid runs back into the esophagus, causing inflammation and other complications. If left untreated, acid reflux illness can develop into esophageal cancer, so it’s crucial to know the signs and when to seek treatment.

After a meal, the stomach generates harsh acids that aid in food digestion. In a healthy person, the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, prevents acid from backing up into the esophagus, a condition known as reflux. This muscle malfunctions in persons with acid reflux disease, causing acid to back up or reflux into the esophagus.

Let’s explore ways to prevent acid reflux from occuring.

Causes

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The lining of the stomach is robust and designed to withstand acid, but the esophagus is not. It has a considerably more sensitive lining and does not self-repair.

As a result, acid reflux can cause burns, which are painful and can make people feel nauseated or compelled to belch repeatedly.

Heartburn, regurgitation of bitter acid into the throat, bitter taste in the mouth, dry cough, hoarseness, a feeling of tightness in the throat, and wheezing are all signs of acid reflux.

Acid reflux can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including:

Acid reflux in the morning

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When a 2009 study found that 48.7% of participants (all with GERD) had an acid reflux episode within the first 20 minutes of waking up in the morning, the term “riser’s reflux” was developed.

The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. Other symptoms include:

  • regurgitation of sour-tasting acid backing up into your mouth or throat
  • difficulty swallowing when food takes longer to go down, along with food is sticking in your esophagus
  • nausea
  • chest pain
  • chronic sore throat
  • dry cough

Prevention

Lifestyle changes

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Mild cases of acid reflux can usually be prevented by implementing lifestyle changes. Here are several examples:

  • Avoid lying down for three hours after a meal.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid pressure on your abdomen.
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Raise the head of your bed six to eight inches by placing wooden blocks under your bedposts. Bed risers are another option for doing this.

Food choices

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There are a number of foods that cause acid reflux and heartburn. Pay close attention to how you feel after eating different foods. Your triggers may include:

  • fatty or fried foods
  • alcohol
  • coffee
  • carbonated beverages, such as soda
  • chocolate
  • garlic
  • onions
  • citrus fruits
  • peppermint
  • spearmint
  • tomato sauce
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  • HEARTBURN TIPS: Do not eat late at night or just before bedtime. Certain foods or drinks are more likely to cause heartburn, such as rich, spicy, fatty and fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and even some fruits and vegetables.

WebMD provides more specific examples of foods and acid reflux, foods that trigger acid reflux

  • alcohol, particularly red wine.
  • black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods.
  • chocolate.
  • citrus fruits and products, such as lemons, oranges and orange juice.
  • coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda.
  • peppermint
  • tomatoes

Medications that can cause heartburn

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Several other types of medications are known to relax the LES muscle and lead to heartburn. They include:

  • An asthma medicine called theophylline, taken by mouth
  • Sedatives
  • Narcotic painkillers
  • Progesterone, a hormone found in some birth control pills
  • Medicines for Parkinson’s disease
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Certain supplements such as iron and potassium
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Osteoporosis medications
  • Iron supplements
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Antibiotics

Best OTC medications for acid reflux

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When stomach contents return up into the esophagus—the muscular tube that transports food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach—heartburn occurs.

Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is a burning sensation that occurs in the mid-chest, behind the breastbone, or the upper section of the abdomen—the area between the chest and the hips.

The acid in the stomach’s digestive juices causes this sensation. Food or acidic liquids can be tasted in the back of the mouth by persons who have this condition.

What are my OTC treatment options?

There are three classes of OTC (over-the-counter) medications for the treatment of heartburn.

Antacids

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Antacids relieve heartburn (indigestion). They work by changing the stomach acid that causes heartburn. Common OTC antacids include:

Histamine-2 (H2) blockers

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H2 blockers relieve and prevent heartburn. They work by minimizing the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Typically, they start to work within one to three hours and provide acid-suppression for several hours. Because acid reducers may interact with certain other medicines, it is suggested you ask your doctor or pharmacist before use if you are taking a prescription drug.  Common OTC H2-blockers include:  

  • Tagamet HB (cimetidine)
  • Pepcid Complete or Pepcid AC (famotidine)
  • Axid AR (nizatidine)

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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

OTC PPIs treat frequent heartburn (occurs 2 or more days a week) and are not intended for immediate relief of heartburn, as they may take one to four days for full effect.

PPIs are prescribed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers, and esophageal inflammation. PPIs operate by lowering the amount of acid that the stomach produces.

If you are using a prescription drug, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using acid reducers because they may interfere with other medications. PPIs sold over the counter are only intended for a 14-day treatment period and can be used up to three times per year.

  • Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole)
  • Nexium 24HR (esomeprazole)
  • Prilosec OTC (omeprazole magnesium)
  • Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate)

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