Treating Acid Reflux Lifestyle Changes

There are basically four types of treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (also commonly called Acid Reflux or GERD). The first and the easiest are lifestyle changes; then medications, which often present their own long term issues; surgery and endoscopic procedures. The Archives of Internal Medicine suggest that universally some lifestyle treatments are more effective than others.

Treating Acid reflux quickly is key is because left untreated it can cause serious complications and in some cases can even lead to esophageal cancer. Doctors often recommend lifestyle changes as the first-line treatment for acid reflux.

Follow your doctor’s advice along with the following suggestions to help reduce the occurrence of your troubling acid reflux symptoms.

  1. Elevate the head of your while you sleep. Head elevated sleeping is the number one doctor recommended lifestyle change. Lying down flat presses the stomach’s contents against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. The easiest way to accomplish head elevated sleep is with a Gravity1st™ Elevated Sleep Systems Mattress. Gravity1st elevates your head the recommended 7” above your stomach and does this on a gradual incline from head to toe. Using pillows to prop yourself up or short wedges both bend you in the middle and often put even more pressure on the LES valve and can actually make your symptoms worse.
  2. Lose Weight – Maintaining a reasonable weight is the second most important thing you can do to relieve symptoms of acid reflux. Obesity increases abdominal pressure, which can then put additional stress on the LES and cause stomach acids to get pushed up into the esophagus. In a study conducted with 30,000 people, women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 22.5-24.9 were approximately 40% more likely to report frequent reflux symptoms than women with a lower BMI.1
  3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Large meals expand your stomach and increase upward pressure against the esophageal sphincter.
  4. Limit your intake of your trigger foods and beverages. Eat foods that rarely cause you heartburn and avoid those foods that do cause you to experience symptoms of heartburn.
  5. Don’t lie down for about two hours after you eat. Gravity helps to keep the stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus and assists the flow of food and digestive juices from the stomach to the intestines.
  6. Stop smoking – Nicotine relaxes the esophageal sphincter. Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid and reduces saliva production.
  7. Do not consume alcohol – Drinking alcoholic beverages causes the LES to relax and thus allows unwanted acid to travel up the esophagus causing the heartburn.
  8. Relax. While stress hasn’t yet been linked directly to heartburn, it is widely known that it can lead to behaviors that can trigger heartburn.
  9. Don’t wear tight fitting cloths or belts around your waist. Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen puts undue pressure on the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and causes acid to reflux into the esophagus.
  10. Keep a daily heartburn journal. Keep a daily record of the things that triggered your acid reflux symptoms, the severity, how your body reacts, and what gives you the most relief. Take all this information to your doctor so the both of you can determine what lifestyle changes you should continue with and what treatments will give you maximum relief.

Keep in mind that everyone is an individual and that what works best for you may be different for another person. The Archives of Internal Medicine (volume 166, page 965) shows that they reviewed 100 studies on the effectiveness of lifestyle changes in treating symptoms of acid reflux. Their findings showed that there are only two truly effective means of treating acid reflux symptoms with lifestyle changes and those changes are:

  1. Elevating the head of your bed
  2. Losing weight

Gravity1st™ Elevated Sleep Systems mattress is the
#1 recommended lifestyle change for the relief of acid reflux symptoms.

References:

  1. Brian C. Jacobsen, MD, MPH, Samuel C. Somers, MD, MMSC, Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, Ciaran P. Kellly, MD and Carlos A. Camargo Jr., MD, DrPH: Association Between Body Mass Index and Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in Both Normal Weight and Overweight Woman. N Engl J Med, 2006 June 1; 354(22):2340-2348.
  2. The Archives of Internal Medicine (volume 166, page 965)