How to Prevent GERD | Dr. Datta Ram U Surgical Gastroenterologist
Acid reflux is a condition wherein acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus. Your lower esophageal sphincter controls the backflow of acid into the tubular esophagus that connects your throat and stomach. If you develop acid reflux, the most prominent sign or symptom you feel is heartburn or a burning sensation in the chest. You will also have other symptoms such as an acid taste in the mouth. Acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal efflux (GERD). If this condition becomes chronic you will also have frequent heartburn, chest pain, and difficulty coughing, and swallowing.
Learn more about Acid Reflux
If you are Obese, you will be at risk of getting GERD problems. Extra weight, flesh, and fat in your abdominal region put pressure on your abdomen leading to GERD symptoms. If you are obese and have a GERD problem, then lose weight. Next, if you have normal body weight then don’t gain weight.
Check the medicines you are using
There are many medicines that interfere with your digestive process or relax your lower esophageal sphincter or irritate your esophagus. Such medicines increase the risk of GERD. For instance, iron tablets, certain antibiotics, painkillers and sedatives, anti-allergic medicines, asthma medicines, calcium channel blockers, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), potassium and magnesium supplements, and many other medications can increase the risk of GERD. If you use these medications or any other such medications, then talk to your doctor about the best alternative drugs. Remember – to talk to your physician prior to stopping any prescribed medications.
Elevate Your Bed
Gastric acid remains in the stomach if you elevate your head by around six to eight inches. Gravitational force helps in keeping the gastric acid down in the stomach. Some people may prefer taking extra support or a pillow to raise their head, but this will not help. However, wedge-shaped support will help. To get a significant outcome, it is better to elevate your entire upper body.
Don’t lie down after eating
If you lie down immediately after having meals you are not letting the food and acid in the stomach to settle down. You will become prone to developing GERD if you lie down immediately after taking food. This is because acid easily passes through the LES into the esophagus. In general, gravity helps in keeping acid reflux under check.
Don’t Take Large meals at Once
If you take large meals at once, you are putting pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter by filling the stomach completely. This may lead to acid reflux and GERD.
How to Prevent GERD
Avoid the following foods if you are at risk of GERD
Spicy foods, mints, chocolates, acidic fruits such as pineapple, citrus fruits; fatty foods, carbonated beverages, coffee, caffeinated beverages onions, baked foods, oily foods, greasy foods, fast foods, donuts, burgers, pizzas, and other canned and stored foods can increase the risk of GERD.
Wear loose-fitting clothes
This is simple to understand. If you wear tight-fitting apparel or clothes, they constrict your abdominal muscles increasing your risk further. For instance, tight jeans or belts, and skin-tight clothes can increase your risk.
Smoking can increase your risk of getting a GERD manifold as the nicotine present in cigarette smoke has the ability to relax the lower esophageal sphincter. It also reduces saliva’s ability to clear acid from the esophagus.
Alcohol is also not a good drink if you are prone to GERD because it also relaxes esophageal sphincter muscles and causes them to spasm.
Other Tips on How to Prevent GERD
There are many reasons behind the GERD issue. Stress could be one of them or it is capable of augmenting the symptoms. To reduce stress, the best bet would be to indulge in Yoga, meditation, hypnosis, NLP (neuro linguistic programming), tai chi, and taking rest.
Chew gum after meals: You’ll make more saliva, which helps neutralize heartburn-causing acid.
If after trying the above tips, you are still experiencing GERD, see your gastroenterologist. There are medications to get relief from GERD symptoms. If lifestyle changes and medications do not provide any relief from the nagging symptoms of GERD, then you have to see a specialist doctor – a surgical gastroenterologist – who specializes in certain specific surgical procedures – such as Nissen’s Fundoplication that offer a permanent solution to your problem of GERD.