We’re over two weeks into 2021. You’ve probably embraced the motto of “NEW YEAR, NEW ME,” and have already drafted your new year resolution list, because why not? However, for patients who struggle with acid reflux or GERD, the promise of a “NEW YOU” is a bit difficult to attain.
Living with ACIDITY and HEARTBURN is anything but easy, but there’s a lot you can do in 2021 to reduce those unwanted symptoms.
Anyone can occasionally get heartburn. It occurs when stomach acid or swallowed food backs up into the oesophagus. But if you experience regular heartburn, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. A ring of muscle placed between your oesophagus and stomach, the lower oesophageal sphincter is supposed to close after food passes through it. In people with GERD, the sphincter doesn’t close properly, and stomach acid shoots up continuously where it doesn’t belong. GERD episodes are mainly experienced after you eat, exercise, bend over or lay down at night. That acid backflow causes heartburn, and also hoarseness, dry cough, chest pain or the irritating sensation of something stuck in your throat.
If you feel like your chest was on fire after eating a big or greasy meal, then you’re probably familiar with acid reflux or heartburn. Whether it happens to you often or occasionally, you can take simple steps to soothe the reflux. If you’re already considering some lifestyle changes this year, here are some tips that can improve your life and control reflux.
The top 10 quick-fix tips to improve acid reflux symptoms and quality of life
1. Say bye-bye to cigarettes. Smoking causes your body to make less saliva, which releases out stomach acid, leading to a burning feeling in your oesophagus. Tobacco may also cause your stomach to make more acid and relax the muscles at the lower end of your oesophagus that can shut down the opening between the stomach and the oesophagus.
2. Avoid trigger foods. Spicy and high-fat foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, citrus fruits or juices, tomato products, carbonated drinks, and onions.
3. Don’t lie down after eating. If you need an afternoon siesta, snooze upright in a chair. Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before going to bed, and eat a small meal.
4. Raise the head of your bed. If the top of your bed is higher than the bottom, it’s harder for the acid to travel up. You can do this by elevating your mattress.
5. Be careful about what medications you use. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other medications, such as some sedatives and blood pressure drugs, can trigger heartburn. Ask your doctor if any of your medications might be causing your symptoms.
6. Eat several small meals during the day. Your stomach produces acid based on how much food you eat. Less food means less acid. Don’t overload your stomach.
7. Limit alcohol. Alcohol can relax the muscles around the lower end of your oesophagus, making it easier for acid to bubble up.
8. Stay slim. One study found that overweight people who lost weight were more likely to have their heartburn go away.
9. Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing, including belts, can cause stomach contents to push upward.
10. Relax. Stress causes stomach acid to bubble up.
Some food/drinks may actually help with your symptoms. You may find relief from:
- Chewing gum
- Alkaline foods, including bananas, melons and cucumber
- Baking soda mixed with water
- Watery foods, like celery, lettuce and watermelon
- Non-fat milk/yoghurt
- Apple cider vinegar mixed with water
Alert: Get your doctor’s OK before you go with any herbal remedies. They can have serious side effects and drug interactions.
Heartburn at night? Tackle it with these tips
- Eat a light dinner/meal and avoid foods that trigger acid reflux.
- Don’t lie down for at least 2-3 hours after eating.
- Use blocks or books to elevate the head of your bed by 4-6 inches. Or put a foam wedge under your mattress at the head of the bed. Sleeping at an angle will help stop acid from backing up into your oesophagus.
Medication for treating acid reflux
Several types of over-the-counter and prescription medicines can help with acidity and heartburn. Your doctor can help you find the one that’s right for you.
- Antacids that neutralise stomach acids: They provide quick relief but do not heal an inflamed oesophagus damaged by stomach acid, e.g., Calcium carbonate.
- H2-receptor blockers that reduce acid production: They do not act as quickly as antacids but provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours, e.g., Famotidine or Cimetidine.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that block acid production and heal the oesophagus: They are stronger acid blockers than H2-receptor blockers and provide time for damaged oesophageal tissue to heal, e.g., Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Pantoprazole and Esomeprazole.
For serious acid reflux, proton pump inhibitors are the most effective treatment. Among PPIs, Omeprazole has shown the highest published evidence regarding its safety profile. All PPIs show similar efficacy. However, since the past 25 years, Omeprazole has remained a valuable treatment for clinicians owing to its efficacy and safety in acid reflux and heartburn, it remains the most used PPI globally with more than 40% prescription share worldwide.
Whatever your goals are for this year, be sure to keep your health at the forefront and stay alert and informed to any worsening symptoms. A few healthy resolutions can take your wellbeing a long way. Adopt lifestyle changes as much possible and be free from acidity and increase your productivity.
Know more about Omeprazole
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.