Acid reflux, aka heartburn, happens when stomach acid moves up into your esophagus. You experience uncomfortable burning, nausea, burping, and serious stomach fullness. Chronic reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Acid reflux happens when the valve, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, doesn’t close all the way or opens too often. This valve is the plug to your stomach, and it usually closes as soon as food passes through. When it opens, stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus and causes reflux symptoms.
A hiatal hernia is a common cause of acid reflux and is unavoidable. But, in many cases, acid reflux can be prevented with simple changes in your habits. Our own Dr. Bharat Pothuri — here at GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas — can offer suggestions on how to prevent acid reflux from happening to you.
In this blog post, we explain five of the most common causes of acid reflux.
1. Having large meals
Big meals often contribute to heartburn. When you eat a lot of food, your stomach has to work extra hard to digest it.
Instead of gobbling quickly or eating one big meal, aim for three small meals a day and a few healthy snacks. This way, your stomach can pace itself during digestion and not overproduce stomach acid so it regurgitates into your esophagus.
2. Eating fast
Eating quickly can also contribute to heartburn because your stomach has to process a lot of food in a short period of time. Practice chewing about 20 times before swallowing. Put your fork down between bites to remind yourself to ease your eating pace.
3. Snacking before bed
Lying down after eating increases your risk of experiencing acid reflux symptoms. The prone position encourages stomach acid to rise into your esophagus. Dr. Pothuri recommends not lying down for three hours after eating if you tend to have acid reflux or you have GERD.
4. Exercising too soon after a meal
Bending over and lifting up heavy objects can cause stomach acid to rise, especially right after a meal. Since exercise often involves picking up heavy weights and moving them around, working out too soon after you eat is a risk factor for acid reflux.
Exercise also bounces around the contents of your stomach, including the acid. It’s smart to wait 30-60 minutes after eating to let digestion occur before heading to the gym.
5. Wearing tight clothing
A belt or waistband that’s particularly tight can aggravate acid reflux because of the pressure it puts pressure on your stomach, causing stomach acid to rise up. Loosen your belt a notch or unbutton your pants if you feel a lot of pressure on your belly.
In addition to lifestyle changes, Dr. Pothuri recommends over-the-counter antacids for occasional heartburn. If you experience acid reflux more than two times a week for several weeks, come into GastroDoxs for a consultation. Dr. Pothuri can determine what’s causing your GERD and provide prescription-strength medicine or a procedure that can resolve it.
If you live in the greater Houston area and need a solution for acid reflux, call GastroDoxs for a consultation or book an appointment online.