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What Diet and Lifestyle to Prevent Acid Reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux is a very common condition that develops a burning sensation, known as heartburn, in the lower chest area. It happens when the contents from your stomach travel up into your esophagus. This is also known as acid regurgitation or gastroesophageal reflux.

But if you are developing symptoms of acid reflux more than twice a week, then you might be facing a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease also known as GERD.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), GERD or acid reflux affects about 20 percent of people in the United States. It can sometimes cause you some serious complications if it is left untreated.

Causes of acid reflux and GERD

The lower oesophageal sphincter is a circular band of muscle found at the end of your esophagus. Usually, it relaxes and opens when you swallow and then it tightens and closes again afterward. Acid reflux happens when your lower oesophageal sphincter doesn’t tighten or close properly. This condition allows digestive juices and other contents from your stomach to travel up into your esophagus.

Risk factors from GERD

GERD affects all types of people irrespective of their age and sometimes for some unknown reasons. It usually occurs due to improper lifestyle, but it can also be due to causes that cannot be prevented.

One of the causes that are not preventable is a hernia. A hole in the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, which sometimes leads to GERD.

The other risk factors that are more easily controlled are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Medications include drugs for asthma, calcium-channel blockers, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, e

Acid reflux may also cause during pregnancy due to extra pressure being placed on the internal organs.

Symptoms of acid reflux

The common symptoms of acid reflux are:

Heartburn

You will feel a burning sensation or discomfort in the abdomen, chest, and even in the throat that may move up from your stomach.

Regurgitation –

a sour or bitter-tasting acid will back up into your throat or mouth.

Other symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • Bloating in the stomach.
  • Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting.
  • Burping.
  • Dysphagia – in which you will feel the sensation of food being stuck in your throat.
  • Hiccups.
  • Nausea.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat.

Dietary and other lifestyle changes to prevent acid reflux and GERD

The most effective way you can treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger these above symptoms. The dietary changes which you need to follow are:

  • Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and eat healthy food. This helps to digest your food properly and prevents heartburn.
  • Quit smoking – Smoking can increase stomach acid production and reduce the functioning of your lower oesophageal sphincter. This is the muscle that prevents the acid and other stomach contents to travel up to the esophagus. Smoking can also decrease the amount of saliva, which neutralizes the acid produced by the stomach.
  • Avoid alcohol – alcohol such as beer, white wine, etc is more induced to acid reflux.
  • Put blocks under your head while sleeping to raise it at least 4 inches to 6 inches from the bed.
  • Eat your food 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
  • Try sleeping in a chair while taking naps.
  • Don’t wear tight and uncomfortable clothes or tight belts.
  • If you’re overweight or in a stage of obesity, then do lose weight by exercising and dietary changes. Too much fat creates pressure on the stomach. This pressure can force the stomach contents to move back up the esophagus.

Conclusion

Before going for other treatment options for acid reflux or GERD, make sure to try the dietary and lifestyle changes mentioned above as a first step. It is important to remember that GERD is a chronic condition that can affect each person differently. If you’re facing such a condition then make sure to consult your doctor immediately depending upon the severity of your symptoms.

About Author

Dr. Nisha Kapoor Gastroenterologist

Dr. Nisha Kapoor

Consultant – Gastroenterology

Contact: 8806252525
Email – ask@sahyadrihospitals.com

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