Anyone who suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (or acid reflux disease) will tell you that the symptoms are considerable, and that these symptoms have the capacity to be life-altering. The disease is chronic and unlikely to disappear on its own; however, there are some ways to mitigate the impact of these symptoms.
The key lies in identifying the triggers to these symptoms and making the necessary lifestyle changes to accommodate them. Following are a few ways to cope with the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Keep Your Distance from Foods that Cause Heartburn
Heartburn can be activated by myriad foods and drinks. They do this by one of two ways: Ratcheting up the production of stomach acid and increasing gastric pressure, or by creating a loose lower esophageal sphincter. Other types of food (particularly spicy foods, acidic foods, and coffee) that will cause irritation in your esophagus’ lining.
In order to identify the offending foodstuffs, experts recommend keeping a heartburn record, such as one described in the following video. (The voice in the video is computer-generated, but a transcript is included on the original YouTube posting.)
In keeping this record, you’ll want to track what you believe caused the episode. You’ll also want to try to figure out the level of pain you experienced and write down the duration of the incident, and of your body’s reaction. If you were able to achieve some level of relief, you’ll also want to make a record of this. Using this data, your doctor should be able to figure out what you need to do to ease your pain.
Doctors specializing in this disease also recommend to cut your meals up into multiple smaller meals that you eat throughout the day. If you also eat them slowly, you’ll be doing a lot to lower the level of gastric pressure you’re experiencing.
Don’t Imbibe Alcohol & Stop Smoking
When it comes to acid reflux, alcohol is possibly the number one liquid to avoid. This is because alcohol raises your body’s stomach acid production and loosens the lower esophageal sphincter. There are also numerous other related conditions that can compound and complicate this condition.
And if you do find yourself wanting a drink, your operative watchword is “moderation” — have only 2 to 3 drinks at a time, and drink plenty of water. White wine is possibly the best form of booze for your condition too. Additionally, you should stop smoking, because it too causes an increase in stomach acid production. Just add that to the long list of other reasons that quitting smoking is in your best interest.
Use Antacids and Relax
If you’re in the midst of a heartburn episode, antacids are a godsend. They work incredibly fast on this particular symptom. You can also use an H2 blocker to get almost a half-day’s worth of relief. Generally you’ll want to take these along with antacids, and if things get bad enough, you might want to look into a proton pump inhibitor.
Check out this video on how antacids work:
Relaxation is also a key skill to cultivate. Stress may only be proven as a corollary to heartburn, but it’s also been known to catalyze various habits that cause it. Therefore, relaxation as a method of stress reduction could be key to helping you cope with the symptoms.
Pay Attention to Bedtime Routines
Believe it or not, your bedtime routines are incredibly important to whether your acid reflux is triggered. Abstain from food or drink during the hour or so that immediately precedes going to sleep. If you’re napping near a mealtime, then your best bet is to do it in a chair so that you aren’t sleeping on a full stomach.
You’ll also benefit from sleeping in a position where your head and shoulder are inclined. By keeping the head elevated above the stomach, you’ll take pressure off it and keep refluxed food from going where it isn’t supposed to go. If you’re still struggling with getting a solid night’s sleep as a result of your acid reflux, drugs like Nexium can improve quality of sleep for people with your illness.
Stop Wearing Constrictive Clothing
Constrictive clothing, particularly clothes that are tight in your abdominal region, can cause your stomach’s content to be displaced against the LES, which then moves refluxed food into the wrong places. Try to avoid anything tight-fitting or “slimming” if you suffer from this condition, or you’ll risk aggravating it.
Follow these steps and you should find some significant relief from the negative symptoms of acid reflux. Although there’s no true cure, all it takes is a willingness to tweak your lifestyle and be proactive in interest of your own health. What other ways have you learned for dealing with your condition?