Most people are familiar with occasional heartburn, the searing sensation you feel when a bit of your stomach acid slips into your lower esophagus (which happens to be near your heart). Your ticker is fine, but your esophagus may sustain some damage if you have frequent heartburn, also called acid reflux.
If you experience this twice a week or more, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Dr. Ayub Hussain at Northside Gastroenterology Associates in Cypress and Houston, Texas, treats GERD with advanced medications and technologies.
Because GERD can lead to open ulcers or scarring that narrows your esophagus, it’s important to seek treatment right away. Meanwhile, there are ways you can ease the problem yourself and minimize the damage.
You can ease your GERD symptoms by making some simple changes in your life to eliminate the things that exacerbate your condition.
GERD is often worse at night when you sleep because you’re horizontal, which makes it easier for acid to move from your stomach to your esophagus. If you raise the head of your bed by placing risers under the legs or placing a wedge under the mattress, you may reduce your symptoms.
Whether you modify your bed or not, it’s best to stay upright for at least three hours after eating before you lie down.
If you’re overweight, the extra pounds place pressure on your stomach and esophagus, exacerbating the situation. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your GERD symptoms and your overall health.
Speaking of pressure, tight clothes can also cause a problem even if you’re not overweight. Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can help.
Smoking causes problems throughout your body, including your esophagus, by hindering its ability to open and close properly.
Food and beverages are the source of most GERD problems. Whatever you eat, make sure you chew slowly and thoroughly to give your digestive system a head start. Some people find that putting down their fork between bites helps them focus on the process.
Also, certain foods and drinks are known to trigger GERD symptoms. While the list varies from person to person, these are the most common culprits:
This is only a partial list, but it gives you a good idea about the types of foods that can trigger your symptoms. Once you know what causes your GERD to flare-up, avoid them as often as possible.
There are also a few foods that may help your GERD symptoms, including:
High fiber foods reduce acid reflux and certain foods (like ginger) contain anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re struggling with GERD, schedule an appointment at Northside Gastroenterology Associates for a comprehensive evaluation and evidenced-based treatments that can stop your symptoms and save your esophagus. Call today or book online.