Your stomach contains some pretty powerful acids that help digest the food you send down. And that’s okay, because your stomach lining was designed to handle it. But other tissues in your body are more sensitive and face severe damage if they come into contact with that acid.
One of those areas is your esophagus, the long tube that starts at the back of your mouth, goes down your throat, and meets the top of your stomach. Ideally, digestive acids stay in your stomach, but you may have a condition that allows it to flow upward into your esophagus, like when the sphincter at the top of your stomach malfunctions.
Acid reflux affects up to 28% of the people throughout North America, and those who live in the greater Houston, Texas area trust Dr. Ayub Hussain to diagnose their condition and help them find the most effective treatment.
Depending on what’s causing your acid reflux or its chronic cousin, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Dr. Hussain may suggest a weight-loss program or prescription medication to resolve the problem. In some cases, surgery is in order to correct the issue. In all cases, you can do yourself a favor by avoiding the most common acid reflux triggers.
What you eat can trigger acid reflux
You can do a great deal to reduce or even stop your acid reflux symptoms by avoiding the foods that churn up your stomach acids. Spicy foods and those that make you burp top the list. Some of the worst culprits include:
- Tomato sauce
- Hot sauces and salsa
- Carbonated beverages
- Fatty foods
Keeping a diary of the foods you eat and how you feel afterward is a good way to find your personal food triggers and avoid them.
When you eat can trigger acid reflux
Even if you avoid the foods that exacerbate your acid reflux, eating “safe” foods at the wrong time may trigger a flare-up, too. Specifically, just before bedtime is a particularly bad time to eat dinner or even a snack, because when you lie down immediately after eating, the acid in your stomach is more likely to regurgitate back into your esophagus.
You’re less likely to suffer from heartburn if you stay upright after eating, so consider going for a stroll around the block to give your food and your stomach acids a chance to settle.
How much you eat can trigger acid reflux
People with GERD typically find that eating smaller meals prevent an acid reflux flare-up, while eating large meals triggers them for two reasons:
- The fuller your stomach is, the more upward pressure it puts on your esophagus.
- The more food you eat, the longer it takes to digest it.
You can alleviate both of these situations by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day rather than three large ones.
Some medications can trigger acid reflux
Everything you put in your stomach has the potential to cause a reaction, even medications that are meant to help you. Some of the most common medications are the ones that cause the most harm: aspirin and NSAIDs.
NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen (Advil®) and acetaminophen (Tylenol®). If you take these for muscle pain or headaches, you may not realize that they’re irritating your stomach while helping your pain. Other meds that can trigger acid reflux include:
- High blood pressure medication
- Anxiety medication
- Osteoporosis medication
Dr. Hussain can help you determine if any drugs you take may be worsening your acid reflux, and he may be able to give alternative prescriptions that help both conditions.
Smoking can trigger acid reflux
It’s no secret that smoking harms your health, but you may not have realized that it’s a factor in your acid reflux problem as well. Here are four ways smoking exacerbates your GERD:
- Damages mucus membranes
- Increases production of acid
- Decreases saliva (saliva neutralizes acid)
- Impairs the reflexes in your throat
Alone, each of these conditions creates a perfect environment for acid reflux, but together they can do some serious damage.
For relief from your acid reflux symptoms and to prevent damage to your esophagus, come see Dr. Hussain. He can get to the root cause of your heartburn and stop acid reflux from controlling your life. To make an appointment, simply contact us at either of our locations in Cypress or Houston, Texas, by phone or online today.