Acid reflux is a common condition in which stomach acid regurgitates through a patient’s esophagus, causing a sensation in the chest that’s commonly referred to as heartburn. Symptoms can vary and be treated with medicine, but sufferers should be aware of possible triggers, such as certain foods and types of clothing.

We recently received this question from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,

I have been suffering from acid reflux for a while now, and I am sick of taking antacids. Is there anything else preventative that I can do for relief?

Thanks,
Heather

Thanks for your question, and the answer is yes. Patients can try a number of ways to keep acid reflux symptoms at bay without a prescription.

First, adjust your wardrobe to include more loose-fitting clothes. Extra pressure on the stomach makes it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus.

Next, try adjusting meal sizes to be smaller. Overeating can make patients more susceptible to reflux, while smaller portions throughout the day can cut down on that risk.

Sufferers who are smokers have a number of reasons to quit the habit, but relieving acid reflux symptoms is another one. Nicotine weakens the muscles between the stomach and the esophagus that keep acid in the stomach. Plus, tobacco can cause the stomach to make too much acid.

Patients should also try to sit upright after a meal for at least three hours so the food can properly make its way throughout the digestive system.

Last, patients should work to identify their triggers. Knowing which foods cause reflux is crucial in alleviating symptoms. Some common culprits include fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, citrus drinks and alcohol.

If symptoms do not improve over time, patients should consult their physician to discuss other options.