Nearly one out of every 10 adults suffers from acid reflux, yet the condition is often not properly diagnosed and treated. Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) occurs when contents from the stomach flow back up into the esophagus, causing a painful burning sensation that can be incapacitating. In many cases, ignoring these symptoms, or treating them as simple heartburn, can lead to worsening pain and more serious medical issues. Doctors say that some simple remedies can help ease discomfort and control the effects of GERD. Here are five ways to effectively manage and treat the symptoms of acid reflux:
The most common treatment for GERD is the use of over-the-counter medication, such as antacids. However, these typically provide only brief relief from discomfort and allow acid to re-accumulate quickly. If these medications fail to treat symptoms, more powerful prescription drugs are available, including acid suppressors, prokinetic agents and H2 blockers. These can be effective at relieving pain.
One of the simplest ways to manage the symptoms of acid reflux is to make small changes to your diet. Certain foods should be avoided, like tomato-based dishes, onions, and spicy and fried foods. Allowing three hours to digest food before lying down can help avoid acid build-up. Regular consumption of fruits with high enzyme content, like papaya, will aid digestion and curb symptoms.
In addition to medication and dietary changes, natural remedies can help suppress the symptoms of GERD. Black pepper, Indian long pepper and ginger have all been proven effective at alleviating acid reflux and can be added to recipes or prepared meals. Herbal liquorice can be brewed into tea, while apple cider vinegar, baking soda and aloe vera can all help ease the pain of GERD sufferers.
A change in lifestyle can help to not only manage the symptoms of acid reflux, but to cure the condition altogether. Obesity is a major contributor to the progression of GERD, so a balanced diet and exercise play important roles in combating it. Sufferers should also avoid other habits which tend to aggravate the condition, such as alcohol consumption and smoking.
If the methods described are not effective in treating the symptoms of acid reflux, it may be necessary to undergo surgery. The most common anti-reflux procedure is known as a fundoplication, which is effective in relieving pain in approximately 80 percent of patients. Other less-common surgery options include partial fundoplication and gastropexy. Although surgery may seem like a dramatic and costly measure, many consider it preferable to a lifetime of pain and discomfort.