Everything You Need to Know About Acid Reflux and GERD?

Acid Reflux is also known as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a painful condition in which the stomach acid goes back up towards the food pipe causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat.

If you are experiencing persistent heartburn with some symptoms like difficulty swallowing, pain in the throat, hoarse voice, sour taste, etc then you are having acid reflux. If it occurs more than twice, talk to your family doctor immediately because it can cause esophagus infection if not diagnosed on time.

As per data from the American College of Gastroenterology, above 50 million Americans are suffering from acid reflux of which 20 million of them are facing severe symptoms. The major reason behind heartburn is the weak lower esophageal sphincter that opens up when you swallow foods and liquids causing them to flow back into the food pipe. So, if you have a problem with this sphincter then it may lead to GERD.

Heartburn not only causes pain in your chest but also irritates your throat making you feel worse. Sometimes it may cause a burning sensation in the stomach as well which can be very uncomfortable.

Acid Reflux can occur at any age but mostly older people experience it due to less muscle activity in their digestive system. In many cases, pregnancy also causes heartburn in women. If you want to know whether you are suffering from acid reflux or not then ask yourself these questions and if the answer is yes and in case of serious symptoms like choking, breathing problem, chest pain, etc see your doctor immediately.

How to treat acid reflux:

Acid reflux is a condition that occurs when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. The acid in the stomach is responsible for breaking down food, but it can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus if it regurgitates. Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, can cause a burning sensation in your chest or throat, sometimes accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth.

There are different ways to treat acid reflux. They include dietary changes, medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes that include losing weight and quitting smoking. Some natural remedies may help too.

Here are ten effective home remedies for acid reflux you can try safely at home:

1. Stay upright after eating:

Acid reflux occurs when you lie down right after eating. This is because the stomach acids go up into your esophagus, which can irritate and damage it. To avoid acid reflux, remain sitting upright for at least three hours after eating. You may also want to wait two or three hours after a meal before going to bed too.

2. Eat more fiber and cut back on sugar and fat:

Dietary changes can help reduce acid reflux symptoms. Fiber accelerates the passage of food through the digestive tract, so increasing your intake can reduce the build-up of stomach contents. Fiber helps keep the lower esophageal sphincter closed, which prevents acid reflux. The best sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains such as beans, brown rice, and oats. Limit foods high in sugar and fat because they can cause heartburn.

3. Drink fluids slowly:

Avoid drinking too much fluid at one time when you’re eating. Drinking a lot of fluid with your meal causes you to swallow air that may accumulate in your stomach and then travel up into the esophagus due to bloating. This contributes to acid reflux symptoms. Drinking water between meals is fine, but avoid it when you eat so that you don’t feel bloated or put extra pressure on your stomach contents.

4. Avoid food and drinks that trigger your symptoms:

Certain drinks and foods can make acid reflux worse. For example, coffee, tea, cola, and alcoholic beverages such as beer can irritate the lining of your esophagus or relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which leads to acid reflux symptoms. Coffee is especially bad because caffeine makes the production of stomach acids more intense. Some people have a sensitivity to citrus fruits too. Try avoiding spicy, fatty, and fried foods because they may cause heartburn. If you drink milk, try drinking it with a straw or add some soda water to cut down on bloating.

5. Eat several small meals instead of three large ones:

Eating smaller meals throughout the day can reduce the risk of acid reflux because it decreases pressure on your stomach. With less food to digest, there is less likelihood that stomach contents will move into your esophagus. Eating slowly and drinking liquids slowly between meals can also help.

6. Don’t eat within three hours before bedtime:

Don’t eat too much or drink too many fluids at least three hours before you go to bed. If you haven’t eaten for eight hours, try having a light snack like toast with jam or honey (not jelly), crackers with low-fat cheese, some sugarless gum, or sugarless mints. These are all good choices because they contain calcium carbonate, which helps neutralize the acid in the esophagus. Drink plenty of fluids before bedtime to help thin out any stomach contents.

7. Lose weight if you’re overweight:

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of acid reflux symptoms because it puts more pressure on your stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter. Losing about 10 percent of body weight can reduce symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

To lose weight, try following a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit and vegetables and regular exercise. You may also need to cut back on foods with added sugar or eat smaller portions at meals.

8. Quit smoking:

Smoking is linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is marked by acid reflux symptoms. Nicotine from cigarettes is a muscle relaxant, so it contributes to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. Quitting smoking may strengthen this muscle and help you have fewer acid reflux symptoms.

9. Adjust your eating habits:

Certain foods or drinks can make acid reflux worse in some people. For example, eating spicy food, chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda pop, citrus fruits and juices can all trigger heartburn in some people. It’s thought that the caffeine in these items relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a ring-like muscular valve that sits at the bottom of your esophagus (food pipe).

If you frequently get heartburn, you may want to avoid food and drinks that seem to make it worse. Also, some people are sensitive to certain foods or beverages that don’t normally bother others. If you have acid reflux symptoms after eating a particular food, stop eating that food.

10. Get off stomach-acid reducers:

If over-the-counter antacids help your symptoms, they’re fine to take occasionally for quick relief. But it’s important not to use them too often because they can reduce the amount of acid in your stomach and esophagus which makes heartburn worse. If frequent overuse is the only way you can control your symptoms, talk with your health care provider about taking medication for long-term control of heartburn.

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