Published February 21, 2012
If your heartburn has turned into a heart inferno, you could be the victim of acid reflux
disease or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). The effects of acid reflux are often uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. Whether it’s when you eat, what you wear, or how you sleep, little steps can make a big difference in managing acid reflux.
Here are six everyday ways to handle the daily digestive battle against acid reflux:
1. Sleep on an incline
Use gravity to your advantage. The onerous effects of acid reflux tend to be worse at night, when acid can easily flow back into your esophagus. For many people, this causes uncomfortable insomnia or a sore throat, wheezing or coughing. Sleeping with your head and chest slightly raised may reduce nighttime heartburn. Since you are more likely to see your feet in this position, you might want to make this a fun change by wearing quirky socks to bed.
2. Avoid the midnight munchies
Acid reflux can be a real nightmare. Eating right before you sleep can aggravate your stomach acid and lead to a restless night of discomfort. If you absolutely must nibble on something, chew gum or suck on a hard candy. These tiny bites can spur saliva production throughout your entire digestive system, which calms your stomach acid. If you have already brushed your teeth, opt for sugar-free gum. There’s no need to give yourself cavities while easing your acid reflux.
3. Stop drinking soda
Carbonated drinks could exacerbate your acid reflux, in part by causing backwash or burping. The carbonated air can also pump painful stomach acid upward, aggravating your chest and throat. Carbonation in soda causes your stomach to expand much more, and such esophageal strain can make acid reflux much worse. If you are a soda addict, this might be a good opportunity to explore new drinks like watermelon juice, chai iced tea or coconut water.
4. Watch what you eat
Steer clear of fatty foods that set off your stomach acid. Acid is entering your system because of a back-up in the esophageal sphincter, and high-fat foods could make this problem worse. Citrus fruits, garlic and tomato sauces can also provoke an esophageal uprising. This may sound like a lot to sacrifice, but there is no need to sacrifice flavor for comfort. There are plenty of great reflux-friendly cookbooks available.
5. Eat more times a day
There is, of course, a catch to eating more frequently: you have to eat less with each meal. A huge meal can put a heavy strain on your digestive system. Eating four or five small meals instead of three big ones over the course of a day can ease gastric pressure. This also has the added benefit of keeping your blood sugar at an even level throughout the day, as opposed to extreme lows and highs.
6. Loosen your wardrobe
Tight clothes can squeeze your stomach and cause acid to rise. Avoid constricting belts and wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.