It’s believed that about one in every five people in Georgia suffers from acid reflux. This condition, characterized by a painful burning sensation in the chest that usually occurs following a meal, affects 60 million people across the U.S. Instead of reaching for antacids, which aren’t always effective, try some natural remedies at home to relieve the discomfort.
What Causes Heartburn
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, usually after you’ve eaten.
Acid reflux has a fancy medical name, gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is usually just shortened to GERD. Some people simply call it heartburn. Any of the above are acceptable, though we prefer using as few syllables as possible.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
In addition to the telltale burning sensation in the chest, symptoms include a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, burping, trouble swallowing, regurgitation and nausea. These tend to be worse when you’re lying down, interfering with sleep.
Preventing heartburn with OTC medicine
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are used for 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 cause unpleasant side effects and must be used on a daily basis, even in the absence of symptoms, to maintain their effectiveness.
Your Athens ear, nose and throat doctor recommends the following natural remedies to help ease the discomfort associated with GERD.
Heartburn Reduction through Lifestyle Modification
- Eat smaller portions. Large, heavy meals increase the risk of heartburn, so try plating less and chew your food slowly. This allows time for digestion and will have you feeling full sooner, which is good for your waistline.
- Avoid foods that trigger acid reflux. Some foods are more likely than others to produce acid reflux flare-ups. Stay away from fatty, greasy and spicy foods, in particular. Choose lean meats and green vegetables instead.
- Don’t eat right before bedtime. Heartburn symptoms are often worse when lying down, so try to finish eating a minimum of three hours before going to bed. This means no snacking, either!
- Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a common acid reflux trigger, so if you are enjoying an adult beverage, drink in moderation and make sure “last call” occurs at least three hours before you plan on going to bed.
- Chew gum. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which causes you to swallow more frequently. This helps to cut back on acid buildup more quickly. Look for chewing gum that contains bicarbonate as an ingredient; this functions as an absorbable antacid that will help prevent symptoms.
- Take it easy after eating. When mom told you to wait half an hour after eating to go swimming, she was onto something there. Engaging in vigorous physical activity immediately after a meal can trigger heartburn, so wait 30-45 minutes before doing something that will get your heart pumping.
Schedule an appointment if you still have acid reflux
These home remedies should prove beneficial in reducing acid reflux. If you have tried these and still find yourself suffering from frequent heartburn—especially if other symptoms such as painful swallowing, chronic sore throat or unexplained weight loss are noted—make an appointment with an ENT specialist in Athens to rule out anything serious.