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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the technical name for what you know as heartburn. Most people get heartburn now and then after a big dinner, but if you get heartburn frequently, it’s time to see the doctor. 

That burning sensation is your body telling you that a part of your digestive system isn’t working right. 

As with any physical ailment, the sooner you get treatment for frequent heartburn, the sooner you’re on the road to recovery. Our board-certified bariatric and general surgeons at Turnquest Surgical Solutions successfully treat many patients with acid reflux. 

If you’re tempted to let it go and just deal with it as a chronic problem, you risk developing a serious illness.

Why you should get treatment for chronic acid reflux 

Your esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Acid reflux occurs when food and/or stomach acid backs up from your stomach into your esophagus. 

Your lower esophageal sphincter muscle, at the end of the esophagus near the stomach, normally closes after food passes through it and moves into the stomach. 

When you have acid reflux, that muscle doesn’t completely close, so stomach acid can travel back up into your esophagus. The pink lining of your esophagus becomes raw and irritated. 

If acid reflux isn’t treated, you could develop Barrett’s esophagus in which the esophagus is seriously damaged and becomes red and inflamed. The condition increases your risk of esophageal cancer. 

Lifestyle changes can reduce or eliminate acid reflux

There are surgical solutions for acid reflux, but before thinking about surgery, you can make lifestyle modifications to help reduce the frequency of acid reflux and possibly eliminate it. Here are lifestyle changes that reduce acid reflux symptoms and lead to better overall health. 

Lose weight 

If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more at risk for acid reflux. The excess weight adds pressure to your lower esophageal sphincter muscle so that it doesn’t work properly. Research studies have found that losing weight can even eliminate acid reflux. 

Weight gain plays a prominent role in developing this condition. Armed with this information, you have a good motivation to shed the extra pounds. Having your throat burn after eating a meal isn’t pleasant. 

Stop smoking

You probably didn’t know that nicotine, besides being addictive, weakens your lower esophageal sphincter muscle so it doesn’t close properly. That’s one more good reason to quit using tobacco. 

Limit alcohol

Is your throat sore or does your chest burn after drinking alcohol at a party? Alcohol is a trigger for acid reflux. 

Drinking alcohol produces excess stomach acid. Like smoking, it weakens the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting food and acid travel back up the esophagus into your throat.  

Eat at least three hours before bed

It may be tempting to fall asleep right after you’ve had dinner, but try eating an hour or two earlier so you have plenty of time to digest your food while your body is upright. 

Instead of eating a huge meal, try a snack or two between lunch and supper and eating smaller meals. 

Use a wedge under your mattress

Lying flat in the bed makes it easy for acid to travel upward toward your throat. Buy a wedge for your bed and place it under the mattress. It raises your head above your heart just enough so it’s harder for acid to travel up your esophagus. 

Eat healthy foods 

Avoid fatty and fried foods and replace them with healthy fats like walnuts and avocados. Add fiber to your diet by eating enough vegetables and fruit. Sprinkle flaxseed over oatmeal with blueberries. Add ginger to your diet. It’s a natural remedy for heartburn and lowers inflammation.  

Keep a food diary

There are certain foods that are likely heartburn triggers for you. Keep notes on what you’ve eaten and had to drink before heartburn occurs. You’ll get a good handle on specific trigger foods to avoid or eat sparingly. 

Chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods are triggers for many of our patients. 

Call us at Turnquest Surgical Solutions today or request an appointment through our online portal for expert treatment of acid reflux and for any bariatric and general surgery needs.

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