Symptoms of acid reflux disease affect more than 60 million Americans monthly. Of those 60 million, it’s estimated that nearly 25 million adults suffer from the symptoms of reflux every day. Since acid reflux symptoms are relatively commonplace, many adults don’t seek treatment or make important lifestyle changes to manage their reflux. Although much of the reflux that people experience is situational or occasional, nearly a quarter of those who suffer from acid reflux experience it on a chronic level as a symptom of an underlying condition called gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD.
Managing GERD-related reflux is difficult without treating the root cause: a weakened lower esophageal sphincter. The only way to achieve long-term relief of your GERD symptoms, including your acid reflux, is to undergo surgical treatment to correct your LES and prevent stomach acid from splashing back up into your esophagus. That being said, there are some lifestyle changes patients can make in the here-and-now to decrease the likelihood of exacerbating their acid reflux.
Avoid Your Triggers
Begin to pay attention to the foods and drinks that seem to incite or worsen your acid reflux disease. Here are a few common “triggers” for those with acid reflux disease.
- Coffee or tea
- Anything carbonated or caffeinated
- Fatty or spicy foods
- Onions and garlic tomatoes
Choose low-fat, high-protein foods in exchanges for foods with high carbohydrate or fat content. Cut down on your portion sizes as smaller meals will be easier on your stomach. And finally, pace yourself. When you feel yourself getting full, stop eating. It takes nearly 15-20 minutes for your body to tell your brain you feel full, so eat slowly and mindfully. Be sure to hydrate properly as well.
Going to bed with a full stomach can worsen your acid reflux. Eat meals at least 2-3 hours before bed to give your stomach the time it needs to digest before going to sleep.
Choose Looser Clothing
Studies show that tighter clothing or belts can put additional pressure on your stomach, causing your acid reflux to flare up.
Losing weight has shown to alleviate the effects of acid reflux or eliminate it altogether. Pair a healthy diet with regular exercise for best results.
Smoking can create extra stomach acid and make it more difficult to keep the acid down. Quitting can be hard! Talk to your doctor about ways to kick the habit for good and make sure you have a strong support group to help you through the process.
Trade your nightly destress drink for a long walk, meditation, reading or quality time with loved ones. Avoiding alcohol can help lessen the symptoms of acid reflux.
Although it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely cure your GERD symptoms without surgical treatment, these lifestyle changes will help you to better manage your acid reflux both today and in the future until you’re ready for long-term treatment. Cheers to a healthier, happier life!