Acid reflux, commonly known as heartburn, causes a burning in your chest that often increases in intensity at night. You might also experience periodic symptoms like difficulty swallowing, a sensation of a lump in your throat, and regurgitation of food. These symptoms are uncomfortable, unpleasant, and sometimes life-disrupting.
Most people experience acid reflux occasionally due to a heavy meal or a single overindulgent night out. But, if you experience symptoms of acid reflux at least two times per week, you have GERD, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease. This chronic problem causes stomach acid to frequently flows back into your esophagus so you feel heartburn often.
At GastroDoxs, we can help you ease the symptoms of acid reflux and manage GERD.
You have a lot of control over the severity of your symptoms, too. Our board-certified gastroenterologist, Bharat Pothuri, MD, recommends you curb the following habits so you experience milder, less frequent episodes of acid reflux.
1. Tight clothing
Pressure on your stomach can aggravate acid reflux. It pushes stomach juices into your esophagus, resulting in the symptoms of acid reflux.
Fitted pants with a tight belt, tight-fitting waistbands, and form-fit leggings or pantyhose can make heartburn worse. Choose more comfortable clothing items that fit loosely and reduce pressure on your stomach.
2. Lying down after meals
Lying down after a meal can put pressure on your stomach, causing the flow of acid reflux back up into your esophagus. It’s best to cut out the post-meal naps and avoid snacking late at night.
Go for a walk or sit upright after meals and wait 2-3 hours before lying down for sleep. Gravity helps encourage stomach’s juices to go in a healthy direction.
3. Large meals
Large meals, like Thanksgiving dinner or an all-you-can-eat buffet, can trigger GERD symptoms. When you fill your stomach up to the brim, the valve between your stomach and esophagus (esophageal sphincter) relaxes, allowing stomach acid back into the esophagus.
Eat small meals, but more frequently. Let go of this idea of three large meals per day. Have your last mini meal a few hours before bedtime, too, to avoid lying down too soon and triggering GERD symptoms.
4. Alcohol consumption
Alcohol is a major trigger for acid reflux, especially if you tend to overindulge. Alcohol relaxes you, including your esophageal sphincter, so stomach acid can creep back into your esophagus.
Have alcohol at special occasions only, or better yet, forgo it altogether to minimize episodes of acid reflux.
5. Sleeping flat
How you sleep has a lot to do with your acid reflux bouts. Avoid eating, snacking, or drinking before bed and elevate your head slightly while you sleep. When you lift your head about 6-8 inches while you sleep, you encourage the healthy downward flow of stomach acid and minimize your symptoms.
A specially designed bed that elevates your head is ideal, but probably not practical. Use a foam wedge or a block under the frame to prop up the head of your bed.
When you come in to see us at GastroDoxs, we work with you to reduce symptoms of acid reflux and help restore your quality of life. Call the office for an appointment or use the online tool if you suffer frequent heartburn. We can help you finetune your habits as well as offer medication or procedures to reduce your GERD symptoms.