Acid reflux is often referred to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or heartburn and is often exacerbated by certain medicines, foods and other factors. Listed below are some of the ways to better your acid reflux symptoms:
- Use a journal or diary to record your heartburn episodes and the things and activities that look like triggers for the symptoms.
- Do not drink alcohol – If you used to drink beer or alcohol to relax or wind down, try to replace this habit with healthier activities after a hard day at the office. You can do deep breathing exercises, some stretching, meditation, walking or exercise to relax yourself and calm your mind.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture is one way of not only treating acid reflux symptoms but also to remove stress and relax. Try to have acupuncture therapy on a regular basis to prevent GERD symptoms from erupting and to stay in a good state of health.
- Smoking cessation – Nicotine is an active ingredient of cigarette and it is suspected of weakening the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter. This is the muscle that relaxes when food and other materials exit the esophagus and enter the stomach and shuts down to prevent stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
- Lose weight – If you have excess weight, losing some pounds can lessen the severity of your GERD symptoms.
- Avoid triggers for heartburn – Do not take in foods and drinks that you suspect trigger your GERD symptoms. Typical food triggers can include:
- High-fat foods
- Tomatoes and all tomato food derivatives
- Citrus juices or fruits
The keeping of a diary/journal makes it easy to identify your GERD food triggers.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes – When you wear tight clothes you only put unwanted pressure on your stomach which can increase the likelihood of GERD symptoms.
- Do not sleep with a full stomach – It’s better to sleep at least two to three hours after a meal. The hours will provide enough time for the stomach to properly digest your foods. It also gives time to lower the acid levels in your stomach after the foods have been properly digested in the stomach. Being in a prone position while you sleep can increase your chances for acid reflux if you’ve just finished a meal.
- Eat more than three meals a day with smaller portions per meal – Eating smaller portions can decrease pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter than when you eat larger meals lowering your chances for acid reflux.
- Eat slowly – Eating quickly increases your chances to experience GERD. Chew slowly and allow the stomach to properly digest foods in its proper time.
When you experience heartburn or worsening heartburn when you lie down, you first need to raise your head so that your head and chest are elevated above your feet. To achieve this, instead of raising your head and chest themselves, elevate instead the head of your bed with 6” blocks under the legs of the bed where your head is positioned when you lie down. Using pillows over your head will only angle you body in a way that adds more pressure on your stomach that may worsen your acid reflux.
Also, if you experience heartburn after you exercise, you may need to properly time your exercise preferably a couple of hours after a meal to properly digest your foods and workout with lower stomach acid levels. You need to also drink lots of water before, during and after an exercise. This can help to dilute your stomach acid and make it less volatile.
Emily Farish Acupuncture
400 S. Jefferson, Suite 203
Spokane, WA 99204