Do you often find yourself reaching out for antacids to manage episodes of acid reflux? These seven tips can help you stop the burn by soothing your GI tract, therefore, preventing long-term complications of recurrent heartburn.
Gastroesophageal reflux, or GER, is an acute problem for many people. Just the feeling of stomach acid reaching your esophagus, leaving behind an agonizing burn, is enough to negatively impact your daily routine. The main reason behind GER is a temporarily dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that should ideally relax when you are in the process of swallowing your food and tighten later to prevent the ingested food from flowing back into your esophagus and mouth. Many factors like obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and consumption of particular medications can trigger GER. While an occasional incident of heartburn may not be a cause for worry, it is a good idea to consult a doctor if you are experiencing it frequently.
The following suggestions can prove to be quite beneficial in soothing your stomach to avoid heartburn:
- Say No to Fizzy Drinks – Effervescent drinks can lead to excess gas in the stomach which is usually expelled, by the body, through belching. This process can help bring up the gastric acid in your esophagus and mouth, therefore causing GER.
- Consider Chewing Gum After Meals – An advantage of chewing gum is that it stimulates the production of saliva which has a neutralizing effect on gastric fluids. Saliva also helps calm the agitated GI tract and assist in slowly moving the acid back to the stomach.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Excessive body weight is a big instigator of GER as it weakens the lower abdominal muscles including the LES, allowing contents of your stomach to move in the reverse direction. Reducing your weight can, therefore, help in preventing and reducing the effects GER.
- Eat Small Portions, Often – A large meal that makes you feel stuffed can put too much pressure on your LES, making it act erratically. Instead of eating three large meals during a day, eating smaller portions several times a day may help keep the pressure off your LES and prevent GER.
- Slow Down While Eating – Along with the food consumed, a significant amount of air goes into your stomach when you gulp down your food quickly. Eating too quickly can, therefore, cause abdominal bloating which paves the way for LES malfunction.
- Sit up or Walk a Bit After a Meal – Maintaining an upright position especially after you have had a meal can help keep the gastric fluids in your belly as well as ease the pressure on the LES. A short walk after a meal can keep GER at bay and give you that much-needed exercise and fresh air.
- Lay Off GER-Triggers – Garlic, milk, coffee, tea, tomatoes, and chocolate tend to boost the production of stomach acid. These items are also known to slow down the digestion process, making it difficult for the stomach to empty quickly. Avoiding these foods can help you reduce the frequency of GER occurrences.
Note – If simple changes like those listed above don’t help and you continue to suffer from heartburn often, discuss this with your physician. It is important to monitor this condition because excessive GER over a prolonged period can lead to corrosion of the esophagus which can be a precursor for other more severe ailments.
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