7 Tips to Help Control Your Acid Reflux Symptoms

7 Tips to Help Control Your Acid Reflux Symptoms

If you have acid reflux, you’re all too familiar with the burning throat and chest discomfort it causes. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve between the food pipe and the stomach, fails to close tightly after eating, allowing stomach acid to leak into the food pipe.

Over time, acid reflux can progress to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more serious form of reflux. If you have symptoms, it’s wise to meet with a digestive specialist and discuss lifestyle changes that can reduce your symptoms.

It’s vital to address acid reflux. Besides the symptoms it causes, damage from stomach acid can cause complications, such as esophageal ulcers, narrowing of the esophagus, and precancerous changes to the food pipe (Barrett’s esophagus).

Gastroenterologist Vikram S Jayanty, MD wants patients to know the importance of managing symptoms of acid reflux to protect your esophagus, reduce the risk of complications, and improve your symptoms. Treatment starts with some simple lifestyle changes. Read on to learn seven steps you can take to manage your acid reflux.

1. Shed extra pounds

Being overweight raises abdominal pressure, significantly increasing the likelihood of stomach acid being forced up into the esophagus. Weight loss is an effective way to reduce reflux. 

2. Steer clear of trigger foods

You should avoid fatty and fried foods, carbonated beverages, garlic and onions, chocolate, peppermint, acidic vegetables such as tomatoes, and citrus fruits. These foods are well known to trigger acid reflux. 

3. Eat smaller meals more frequently

Large meals cause the stomach to expand, putting pressure on the LES. The same is true for beverages: instead of a few large glasses, drink smaller amounts throughout the day and eat smaller, more frequent meals. 

Tip: Chewing a stick of gum 30 minutes after eating stimulates saliva production, which neutralizes and dilutes stomach acid. 

4. Avoid lying down after meals

Even bending over at the waist shortly after eating increases stomach and LES pressure. When you're standing up, gravity keeps the contents of your stomach from backing up and encourages them to flow down into your intestines. So skip bedtime snacks, and make sure to wait a couple of hours before lying down after meals. 

5. Seek treatment

If symptoms persist despite avoiding the identified triggers, schedule a visit with a digestive specialist. Dr. Jayanty can use tests to look at the lining of your esophagus and stomach to see if there’s any inflammation or ulceration.

Medications that reduce the production of stomach acid are also effective. Dr. Jayanty may order additional tests to check the severity of reflux and better understand what’s behind your ongoing symptoms. If conservative measures fail, he may suggest surgery to strengthen the LES, which is usually done laparoscopically.

6. Try sleeping on your left side

Sleeping on your right side during the night can aggravate reflux symptoms. The reason for this is unknown, but it could be explained by anatomy. The esophagus enters the stomach on your right side. As a result, when you sleep on your left side, the lower esophageal sphincter sits above the level of stomach acid.

Stomach acid covers the lower esophageal sphincter when you lie on your right side, increasing the risk of reflux.

7. Raise the head of your bed

Some people have reflux symptoms at night, which can affect sleep quality and make falling asleep more difficult. Sleeping in a different position, such as elevating the head of your bed, may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms and improve sleep quality.

If you’re struggling with acid reflux symptoms, stop in to see us. Call our Houston office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jayanty, or book your request online today. We can help you say good riddance to reflux symptoms. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Expect During and After Your First Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. To lower your risk for cancer complications, you should start getting routine colonoscopies by the time you’re 50. Learn what to expect at your first colonoscopy.