If you’ve ever experienced a painful burning sensation in the chest after you’ve eaten, you’re not alone. Acid reflux, commonly referred to as heartburn, affects 60 million people across the U.S. That means almost one out of every five people in Boone and Jefferson frequently reach for antacids after mealtime. There are some natural remedies that can help reduce the discomfort associated with acid reflux, allowing you to better enjoy your favorite foods.
What Causes Heartburn?
The medical term for acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease, usually shortened to GERD because even a linguist has fits with that many vowels. Heartburn is another acceptable substitute.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
Acid reflux is the result of stomach acid flowing into the esophagus and usually occurs following a meal. Besides the burning sensation in the chest, symptoms include a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, swallowing difficulty, burping, regurgitation, nausea and bloating. Symptoms are worse when lying down.
Can OTC antacids and acid reducers help?
Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs are available to help with symptom relief, including histamine-2 blockers (Pepcid and Zantac are two examples), proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, Prevacid) and promotility agents, but many of these medications have unpleasant side effects and require daily usage in order to be most effective.
Fortunately, there are some natural remedies you can try at home. Your Boone ear, nose and throat specialist recommends these tips.
Try these heartburn home remedies
- Eat smaller portions. Big meals increase the risk of heartburn, so try dishing up less and chewing slowly. This will help give your food time to digest and will leave you feeling full sooner.
- Avoid foods that trigger acid reflux. Certain foods tend to cause acid reflux to flare up. Stay away from fatty, greasy and spicy foods in particular. Try loading up on lean meats and green vegetables instead.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Because heartburn is often worse when lying down, finish eating at least three hours before going to bed. Skip that midnight snack as well, unless you’re prepared to be up for a few hours afterward.
- Limit alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are a well-known trigger of acid reflux. When imbibing, drink in moderation and put down that glass of chardonnay well in advance of bedtime. As with eating, you’ll want to give yourself a cushion of three hours before lying down to reduce your odds of experiencing heartburn.
- Chew gum. Chewing gum increases the amount of saliva you produce, causing you to swallow more. This helps rid acid buildup more quickly. Chewing gum that contains bicarbonate is especially effective.
- Slow down. As tempting as it is to go for a brisk walk or swim after eating in order to work off those calories, it’s best to wait 30-45 minutes before engaging in vigorous physical activity. This will help prevent heartburn from flaring up.
These home remedies should help reduce the number and severity of heartburn outbreaks.
If you’re still suffering from GERD, schedule an appointment today.
If they don’t bring you relief and you still suffer from acid reflux, especially if it’s accompanied by symptoms such as painful swallowing, chronic sore throat or unexplained weight loss, schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor in Boone or Jefferson.