June 15, 2011
Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not completely close, allowing stomach acid to travel up and into the esophagus. If this occurs more than twice a week, you are considered to have acid reflux disease (ARD). Fortunately, there are many things you can do to alleviate or even prevent the symptoms of acid reflux that you can incorporate into your lifestyle.
Antacids such as popular over-the-counter drugs like Maalox, Tums, Mylanta and Rolaids have been known to ease the symptoms of acid reflux. These medications neutralize your stomach acids and provide fast-acting relief in instances when acid reflux is mild or an isolated incidence. Many antacids come in liquid form and coat the lining of the esophagus. This helps to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach.
With a bit of trial and error, acid reflux sufferers can figure out their dietary triggers. Common foods that cause acid reflux are:
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits
- Snack foods like potato chips and corn chips
- Tomatoes and tomato sauces
- Ground beef, chicken nuggets and chicken wings
- Some pasta dishes
Keep a dietary journal for a couple of weeks. See if you can figure out what foods are causing your symptoms and comprise a list of foods you should avoid. Because large meals stay in the stomach for a longer period of time, eating smaller, more frequent meals can also be beneficial.
Many sufferers find that sleeping with their head higher than their torso can alleviate night time symptoms of ARD. You can do this by either elevating the head of your bed or sleeping with several pillows under your head, neck and shoulders. Other night time tips include wearing loose fitting pajamas, sleeping on your left side and eating your last meal no later than at least two hours before you lay down for the night.
- Smoking can exacerbate symptoms, if you smoke, try to quit.
- Stress can be a trigger for ARD, try to relax with deep breathing exercises.
- People that are heavier tend to suffer with ARD more than others. If you are overweight, try shedding a few pounds.
- Exercise can help. Not only will it help you lose weight but it will help you relax and unwind.
- Avoid aspirin which can irritate the stomach and cause reflux.
Many people with ARD have found that with just a bit of persistence and a few lifestyle changes, they can easily manage their symptoms.
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