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Best ways to relieve acid reflux without medication

9 Best ways to relieve acid reflux without medication


What Is Acid Reflux and What Are the Symptoms?


Acid reflux is when stomach acid gets pushed up into the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food and drink from the mouth to the stomach. Some reflux is totally normal and harmless, usually causing no symptoms. But when it happens too often, it burns the inside of the esophagus. An estimated 14–20% of all adults in the US have reflux in some form or another. The most common symptom of acid reflux is known as heartburn, which is a painful, burning feeling in the chest or throat.Researchers estimate that around 7% of Americans experience heartburn daily.

In addition to heartburn, common symptoms of reflux include an acidic taste at the back of the mouth and difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms include a cough, asthma, tooth erosion and inflammation in the sinuses.

If you are sounding a little hoarse and have a sore throat, you may be bracing for a cold or a bout of the flu. But if you've had these symptoms for a while, they might be caused not by a virus but by a valve—your lower esophageal sphincter. That's the muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach, and when it doesn't close completely, stomach acid and food flow back into the esophagus. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux; the backward flow of acid is called acid reflux.

Acid reflux can cause sore throats and hoarseness and may literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. When acid reflux produces chronic symptoms, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn—pain in the upper abdomen and chest that sometimes feels like you're having a heart attack.

If you've been having repeated episodes of heartburn or any other symptoms of acid reflux you might try the following:

1. Eat sparingly and slowly :

When the stomach is very full, there can be more reflux into the esophagus. If it fits into your schedule, you may want to try what is sometimes called "grazing"—eating small meals more frequently rather than three large meals daily.

2. Avoid certain foods :

People with acid reflux were once instructed to eliminate all but the blandest foods from their diets. But that's no longer the case. "We've evolved from the days when you couldn't eat anything," Dr. Wolf says. But there are still some foods that are more likely than others to trigger reflux, including mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol. If you eat any of these foods regularly, you might try eliminating them to see if doing so controls your reflux, and then try adding them back one by one. The Foodicine Health website at www.foodicinehealth.org has diet tips for people with acid reflux and GERD as well as for other gastrointestinal disorders.

3. Don't drink carbonated beverages :

They make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus. Drink flat water instead of sparkling water.

4. Stay up after eating :

When you're standing, or even sitting, gravity alone helps keeps acid in the stomach, where it belongs. Finish eating three hours before you go to bed. This means no naps after lunch, and no late suppers or midnight snacks.

5. Don't move too fast :

Avoid vigorous exercise for a couple of hours after eating. An after-dinner stroll is fine, but a more strenuous workout, especially if it involves bending over, can send acid into your esophagus.

6. Sleep on an incline :

Ideally, your head should be 6 to 8 inches higher than your feet. You can achieve this by using "extra-tall" bed risers on the legs supporting the head of your bed. If your sleeping partner objects to this change, try using a foam wedge support for your upper body. Don't try to create a wedge by stacking pillows. They won't provide the uniform support you need.

7. Lose weight if it's advised :

Increased weight spreads the muscular structure that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that holds the sphincter closed. This leads to reflux and heartburn.

8. Quit, If you smoke :

Nicotine may relax the lower esophageal sphincter.

9. Check your medications :

Some including postmenopausal estrogen, tricyclic antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory painkillers can relax the sphincter, while others particularly bisphosphonates like alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), or risedronate (Actonel), which are taken to increase bone density can irritate the esophagus.

If these steps aren't effective or if you have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, see your doctor. You may also need medication to control reflux even as you pursue lifestyle changes.

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