Symptoms of acid reflux
The most common symptom of acid reflux is called heartburn, which is a painful, burning feeling in the throat or chest.
Out of the people who frequently get heartburn, 20-40% are detected with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
Along with heartburn, common symptoms of reflux include of an acidic taste at the back of the mouth and difficulty in swallowing. Other symptoms are tooth erosion, cough, asthma, and irritation in the sinuses.
There are three conditions which can increase acid reflux. These are:
- poor movement of food or acid from the oesophagus
- excess acid in the stomach
- delayed stomach clearance
If you have been having recurring incidents of heartburn or any other signs of acid reflux, you should try the following remedies for acid reflux that you can implement at home:
1. Eat slowly and carefully
When the stomach is full, there is a chance of experiencing more acid reflux in the oesophagus. If you have enough time in your schedule, you should inculcate a habit called "grazing", which is consuming small meals more regularly instead of three large meals daily.
2. Avoid specific foods
People with acid reflux were once advised to omit all but the blandest foods from their food intake. But that's no longer required. Nowadays, food has evolved further to complement our changing lifestyles. However, there are still some foods that trigger reflux more than other foods, such as mint, spicy foods, fatty foods, tomatoes, garlic, onions, coffee, chocolate, tea, and alcohol. If you consume any of these foods frequently, you can try avoiding them to see if doing so reduces your reflux, and then try including them back one by one gradually.
3. Avoid drinking carbonated beverages
Carbonated drinks make you burp, which leaks acid into the oesophagus. Try drinking flat water rather than sparkling water.
4. Don’t sleep right after you eat
When you are standing idle, or even sitting, gravity alone keeps acid in the stomach, where it should be. Try eating three hours before you go to bed. This means - no naps after lunch and no late dinners or midnight snacking.
5. Sleep the right way
Preferably, your head should always be 6 to 8 inches higher than your feet. You can achieve this position by putting bed risers supporting the head of your bed. If your partner does not like this change, try using a foam wedge support for your upper body. Don't try to build a wedge by just stacking pillows. They would not provide the support you need. Also, sleep on your left side to reduce the acid reflux.
6. Lose weight if required
Excess weight spreads the muscles that helps lower the oesophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that closes the sphincter. This results in acid reflux and heartburn.
7. Quit smoking
You should stop smoking because nicotine can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter.
Though we now know how to stop acid reflux or there are simple other acid reflux cures one can try out, it all takes time. You might want to resort to medication to control acid reflux even as you make lifestyle changes. Along with dietary changes, you can try antacids when your acid reflux goes out of control. Try Gaviscon liquid that provides quick relief from acidity and heartburn. It started working in just 3 minutes and lasts upto 2X longer vs. Ordinary Antacids.*
If these dietary tips for acid reflux are not working or if you have severe pain or are struggling with swallowing, consult your doctor to rule out other chronic causes.
*Comparing Gaviscon with select ordinary antacid
I. Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium--aluminium antacid gel. J Int Med Res. 1980;8(4):300-2.
II. Mandel KG etal. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;14(6):669-90
Article published July 22, 2021