A little bit of self-care can treat Acid Reflux effectively

A little bit of self-care can treat Acid Reflux effectively
March 11 05:07 2022 by admin Print This Article

Acid Reflux is the common name for a condition called as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). In an earlier article, we have covered in detail what is GERD and what are its symptoms. The same article also explored Medications and Diet plans that can help overcome GERD.

In this article, we will cover Lifestyle Changes and Stress Management that are required to overcome GERD in the immediate, and prevent a relapse in the future.

A. Lifestyle Changes

Again, this covers 5 broad topics and includes various tips.

Food

This has been covered in detail in the earlier article. But just to summarize:

  • Eat plenty of whole foods that have low fat and sugar content such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, and non-fat dairy.
  • As much as possible, avoid red meat, sugary drinks, carbonated drinks, processed foods, and high-fat, high-sugar desserts.
  • Avoid spicy foods and all those that trigger acid reflux. These can be unique to you, but they generally include citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, vegetables such as tomatoes (including tomato sauce), mint, garlic, onion, fatty and fried foods, chocolate, and beverages that contain alcohol and caffeine.

Clothing

  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes or clothes that fit tightly around your waist. These put pressure on the abdomen and Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), worsening the symptoms of GERD.

Habits

  • Quit smoking. Smoking decreases the LES’ ability to function properly.
  • Drink little to no alcohol and caffeine. These are irritants that weaken the LES and trigger reflux symptoms.
  • Eat dinner early in the evening, preferably before 7 PM.
  • There should be a 3-4 hours gap between dinner and going to bed. Completely avoid eating immediately before going to bed. Digestion increases the quantity of gastric acid in the stomach. Also, when you lie down, the ability of the LES to prevent stomach contents from going up the esophagus reduces. This means – plenty of stomach acid and a reclined position are the right combinations for acid reflux to occur.
  • During the 3-hour gap, you should be sitting upright. A recliner set at a 45-degree angle or higher is a better way of relaxing after dinner than lying down.
  • An even better option is to stand up and walk around after a meal. This helps gastric juices to flow in the right direction.
  • Before going to bed, you should try raising your head, shoulders, and torso so that the esophagus is more upright or at a 45-degree angle. Merely propping the head with a pillow does not work. So to achieve this, you can place wooden or cement blocks under the feet of your bed. So this way, the head end of the bed is raised by 6 to 9 inches. If this also cannot be done, then you can insert a wedge between your mattress and cot to elevate your body from the waist up.
  • Chew gum that is not flavored with peppermint or spearmint. Chewing gum relaxes the LES, increases saliva production, and reduces the quantity of acid in the esophagus.
  • Never overeat, and always eat slowly. Food must be chewed thoroughly before swallowing. If required, put down your hand, fork, or spoon after every bite and pick it up again after you have swallowed that bite.

Weight Management

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight or body mass puts pressure on your abdomen, thereby pushing up your stomach and causing acid reflux into the esophagus.
  • Use online BMI calculators to know if you are overweight. And if you are, then consult a dietician and nutritionist at a reputed hospital and follow the diet plan designed by them.

Monitoring

  • If you suspect that there are some foods that trigger or worsen symptoms of GERD for you, then you must keep a daily diary for one week. List down the foods you consumed, the time you consumed them, the activities are done after eating, and GERD symptoms.

B. Stress Management

Several studies have been conducted and research findings published in leading journals around the world, about the connection between anxiety, depression, and GERD. Doctors and people suffering from GERD know that anxiety, stress, and depression can worsen GERD symptoms such as heartburn and upper abdominal pain. It’s not that stress increases acid production. In fact, several studies have shown that people with stress and suffering from GERD have the same levels of stomach acid in them as people without stress. Then what causes the problem? It is found that stress reduces the motility of the LES. That is, the contractions of the LES are less regulated and more random in stressed-out people.

So how does one reduce stress in order to overcome GERD? Stress management for any reason includes the same set of tips.

  • Exercise Exercise helps in weight management and also regulates digestion. Ensure you are as upright as possible during the exercise session. This is important as some exercises can worsen the symptoms of GERD.
  • Experiment with stress-management techniques such as meditation and yoga. Identify what works best for you and create a regimen around that.
  • Deep breathing and pranayama also help. Just 10 minutes of deep breathing every day can make a big difference in your GERD symptoms.
  • Enjoy good sleep every night. Good sleep helps reduce blood pressure and stress. This is turn ensures proper regulation of LES movements. Not only GERD, sleeping well prevents or overcomes conditions such as sleep apnea, insomnia, daytime sleepiness and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Outlook

An occasional bout of acidity or acid reflux is something everybody goes through once in a while. But chronic acid reflux or GERD is a serious matter. If GERD is not treated in time, it can cause complications such as narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture), an open sore in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer), and precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett’s esophagus).

If you or any of your dear ones are showing symptoms of GERD, do not ignore the same. GERD requires the expert intervention of a qualified gastroenterologist or gastrointestinal specialist. Consult a reputed hospital. Specialists, there will diagnose your condition precisely and design the best course of treatment for long-term recovery and rehabilitation.


Reviewed by Dr Suresh S Venkita, Group Medical Director, Kauvery Hospitals


Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

  Categories:
write a comment

1 Comment

  1. Simon H
    March 27, 14:08 #1 Simon H

    The point about the right type of clothing was a new thing I learned. It reminds that simple things also matter.

    Reply to this comment

Add a Comment

Your data will be safe! Your e-mail address will not be published. Other data you enter will not be shared with any third party.
All * fields are required.