Acid Reflux 101
Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are the most common treatments for Acid Reflux and GERD . In the most severe cases, surgery may even be required. But regardless of how bad your GERD symptoms are, successfully fighting heartburn and acid reflux also requires some lifestyle changes, ranging from the way you sleep to the food you eat.
Sleep better Head Elevated | Acid Reflux
What does sleep have to do with heartburn? More than you might think. Avoid eating before bedtime and elevate your head six to eight inches while you sleep. You can do this easily by using a Gravity1st mattress.
This position doesn’t reduce the frequency of acid reflux, but research shows it helps stomach acid drain from the esophagus more quickly. Take note, propping yourself up on a bunch of pillows or a short wedge will bend you at the waist and could make your symptoms worse by putting additional pressure on your lower abdomen, which puts more pressure on your stomach and LES. (lower esophageal sphinchter)
Being Overweight | Acid Reflux
The more you weigh, the more likely you are to have heartburn. A 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the risk of acid reflux symptoms increases along with body-mass index (BMI).
The association seems to be stronger in women than men (especially premenopausal women).
Explanations vary. Poor diet, excess body fat in the abdomen, and chemicals released by body fat have all been cited as possible culprits.
Smoking | Acid Reflux
Everyone knows that smoking damages your heart and lungs,but what about your digestive system? Yep, that too.
Nicotine, like alcohol, may worsen GERD symptoms by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Smoking also causes bile salts to migrate from the small intestine into the stomach and reduces the amount of saliva you produce. (Saliva helps flush stomach acid out of the esophagus and contains a natural acid-fighter, bicarbonate.)
Heartburn Triggers | Acid Reflux
More than 60 million people get heartburn at least once a month. Sometimes the cause–say a chilidog–is obvious. Here are some less obvious heartburn triggers, including fish oil supplements, peppermint, and prescription medications.
Fish oil supplements | Acid Reflux
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and has been hailed as a natural way to manage heart disease, depression, and countless other health conditions. However, it can also cause heartburn.
The oil—not the fish—appears to be responsible for gastrointestinal side effects. Fish itself is low in fat and high in protein and is an excellent food for heartburn sufferers when used in a healthy recipe.
Peppermint | Acid Reflux
Peppermint, like fish oil, is a double-edged sword when it comes to the stomach. Peppermint tea, peppermint-oil capsules, and even peppermint candies are often used to settle upset stomachs—but these remedies can backfire on people with GERD.
The soothing and numbing effect of menthol tends to relax the valve that separates the stomach and esophagus (known as the lower esophageal sphincter), which can cause stomach acids to drift up the esophagus more easily, aggravating heartburn.
Pills | Acid Reflux
Are you prone to frequent headaches and heartburn? Think twice about reaching for the ibuprofen. When used regularly, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can trigger heartburn. Some prescription drugs can too, including antibiotics, calcium channel blockers , bronchodilators such as albuterol (for asthma and COPD), osteoporosis drugs, and some sedatives. Consult your doctor if you think your Rx is causing heartburn—don’t just decide to stop taking a drug on your own.
Stress | Acid Reflux
Stress does seem to trigger heartburn symptoms, but the relationship is trickier than you might think. Stress does not cause an off-the-charts surge in stomach acid production.
However, a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research suggests that a heartburn patient’s perception of his symptoms—and not the actual levels of stomach acid—are associated with stress.
In other words, stressed people may be more aware of heartburn symptoms or the neurological effects of stress might ratchet up pain receptors in the esophagus.
Genetics | Acid Reflux
Wondering what’s causing your heartburn? Take a look across the dinner table; your parents, not your plate, may be partly to blame.
In recent years, twin studies have suggested that 30% to 45% of your risk for GERD is dependent on genetic factors. (The rest is up to you: what you eat, whether you smoke, whether you exercise.)
Experts aren’t entirely sure what explains the hereditary nature of GERD. It could be due to inherited physical traits, such as abnormalities in stomach function or a hypersensitivity to stomach acids.
Avoid Acid Reflux
If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), how you eat is almost as important as what you eat. That means slow it down, no late-night snacks, and don’t hit the hay right after meals. But choosing food wisely is also key.
You can curb your GERD by opting for a low-fat, high-fiber diet that’s heavy on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats.
Do you have Heartburn?
- Acid reflux is such a common problem you’d think it would be simple to spot and treat.
- But sometimes acid reflux symptoms are less than obvious or easy to mistake for something else.
- If left untreated, heartburn can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to cancer.
- Here are some symptoms—both common and unusual—that could mean you have acid reflux.
Chest pain | Acid Reflux
Chest pain, which occurs because stomach acid is splashing into the esophagus, is a classic acid reflux symptom. But the pain can last longer and be more intense than expected. Many people mistake heartburn for a heart attack. You can never ignore chest pain, especially if it gets worse when you exercise or exert yourself. IMPORTANT: If you’re having chest pain, check with your doctor to make sure you’re not having a heart attack.
Pain gets worse at rest | Acid Reflux
The acid that is supposed to stay in your stomach is more likely to escape into your esophagus when you lie down or bend over, causing heartburn.
“If you’re up straight, gravity helps keep food in the stomach, If you lose the gravity, you’re more prone to reflux. That’s why people with chronic heartburn raise the head of their bed, and why they shouldn’t eat big meals right before bedtime. You can use Gravity1st to help with head elevated sleeping and get a better nights rest.
Pain after eating | Acid Reflux
Pain that sets in right after a meal—especially a big meal—often means the stomach is overloaded and its contents have nowhere to go but up. But you may be able to prevent this without taking medication. Don’t eat large, fatty meals and watch your intake of alcohol and tobacco.
Bitter taste | Acid Reflux
Sometimes acid escaping from your stomach can make its way into the back of your throat, leaving an icky, bitter taste in your mouth. In really extreme cases, this can cause choking. If that happens—especially at night—you should see your doctor.
Hoarseness | Acid Reflux
You might think you’re in the early stages of a cold when your voice starts cracking, but hoarseness can be another heartburn symptom.
If stomach acid is seeping into your esophagus it can irritate your vocal cords. Also a Pay attention to when your voice sounds more husky than usual. If it’s after you’ve eaten, you may have reflux.
Sore throat | Acid Reflux
A sore throat is another classic cold or flu symptom that might actually be caused by digestive problems.
If your throat tends to ache only after meals, you may have heartburn. Unlike with a cold or the flu, however, this type of sore throat can also be chronic. If you don’t develop other symptoms, such as sniffling or sneezing, consider acid reflux.
Cough | Acid Reflux
Many respiratory symptoms, such as chronic cough and wheezing, can also be due to heartburn, likely because stomach acid is getting into your lungs.
If you suspect heartburn is at the root of your breathing difficulties—possibly because it occurs immediately after eating—you may want to talk to your doctor about getting a pH test. The test is an outpatient procedure that measures the amount of acid in your esophagus over a 24-hour period and can help determine if you have acid reflux.
Asthma | Acid Reflux
The coughing and wheezing from heartburn can get so bad they could become triggers for asthma.
It is not clear, however, if frequent heartburn actually causes people to develop asthma. Although many people who have heartburn also have asthma and vice versa, the reasons for this overlap aren’t clear.
Experts think stomach acid can trigger nerves in the chest to constrict your breathing tubes in order to keep acid from entering. Again, a simple pH test to look for acid in your esophagus may help you get to the bottom of the problem.
Nausea | Acid Reflux
Nausea is associated with so many things that it can be hard to attribute it to reflux. In some people, the only manifestation they have of reflux is nausea. If you have nausea and can’t figure out why, one of the things [to] think about is reflux.
And if the nausea tends to come on right after meals, that’s even more of an indication that it might be acid reflux
Trouble swallowing | Acid Reflux
Over time, the continuous cycle of damage and healing after acid reflux causes scarring. This, in turn, causes swelling in the lower-esophagus tissue, resulting in a narrowing of the esophagus and difficulty swallowing.