5 Lifestyle Changes to Improve Acid Reflux

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Fight acid reflux? Making lifestyle changes might help.

Acid reflux got you down? While there are medications that can help, Dr. Shafiq Qaadri suggests making these lifestyle changes to keep the problem under control.

 

Don’t eat on the go

Sometimes, making the time to sit down and eat can make all the difference, Qaadri says. Eating in your car while driving to work doesn’t count. Try to take a more scheduled approach to meal time. Make time to eat and digest.

Take it easy on the spices

If your motto is, “The hotter the better” when it comes to food, you’ve got a problem. Spicy foods can cause acid reflux. There are many cultural foods that have plenty of kick, so it can be hard to eat blander food, but if you’re struggling with the uncomfortable sensations of acid reflux, it might be time to try.

Give up stimulants

All that caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol is contributing to your acid reflux. It’s not easy to cut all the stimulants out of your life, but cutting back could bring some relief.

When lifestyle changes aren’t enough

If changing your diet and lifestyle isn’t improving your chronic heartburn, a prescription medication might be your best solution. Dr. Qaadri says the best medicines are known as PPI, or proton-pump inhibitors. These pills reduce stomach acid by 90 percent, which keeps it from coming back up your throat and allows the esophagus to heal.

If heartburn is persistent, see a doctor.

See a doctor

Everyone gets heartburn on occasion, but it you’re dealing with it twice a week for a several weeks straight, it’s time to see your doctor.

“People buy time, nursing their symptoms with chewable antacids, over-the-counter medications, herbals, potions from the Internet and home concoctions,” Dr. Shafiq Qaadri tells The Globe and Mail. “Often, it’s only when all these maneuvers fail to bring relief that they see a physician.”

Don’t let the problem go untreated. See a doctor for help.

Acid reflux can interfere with your everyday life. If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering with this condition, talk with your doctor to find a suitable treatment.

 

How does a doctor diagnose acid reflux?

You doctor will use a special X-ray machine called the barium swallow radiograph to take a look at your esophagus. You’ll drink some barium, which will allow your doctor to see if you have any changes in your esophagus. You could still have acid reflux without the X-ray picking up any abnormalities, so your doctor might try a different tactic, like an endoscopy.

During an endoscopy, a small camera is placed on a tube and inserted into your throat. Your doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax and make the procedure more comfortable. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Again, it’s not guaranteed to detect changes, but it is another tool doctors can use to check for the condition.

In addition to these tests, your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms. The most common symptoms are chronic heartburn and a burning sensation in the throat, according to WebMD.

What are the treatment options?

 

Treatment options vary from patient to patient. For some, diet and lifestyle changes are the answer. You’ll want to avoid foods and beverages that trigger acid reflux. Common food triggers include citrus fruits, chocolate, spicy foods, onions, garlic and tomatoes. You should also avoid drinks like coffee, tea, soda and alcohol.

A change in sleeping habits can also improve acid reflux. Try propping your head up while you sleep and don’t eat two hours before you get into bed.

For some, diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough. Antacids can provide temporary, quick relief, but if they aren’t enough, you can get prescription medications like Nexium or Pepcid AC.

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