Reflux or Acid Reflux is something many people struggle with on a daily basis. It’s not uncommon for most people to experience it at some point during their lives
What is Reflux Disease?
Your stomach entrance has a valve that forms a muscle ring known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Typically, the valve closes after letting the food pass into the stomach. Sometimes, it fails to close completely, allowing the stomach acids to move up the esophagus.
This often causes heartburn, which later can develop into reflux disease, especially if the chest discomfort happens frequently (i.e. more than two times a week).
Reflux disease, commonly known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), refers to a digestive disorder that usually affects the muscle ring that connects the esophagus and the stomach.
The condition is common in pregnant women due to frequent exposure to acid indigestion or heartburn.
Medical experts describe reflux disease as a result of a condition known as hiatal hernia. The disease can heal without medication and you can relieve the symptoms by eating a healthy diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
However, the condition can be extreme, requiring you to take medication or undergo surgery.
Causes of Reflux Disease
Acid reflux is commonly caused by a stomach abnormality known as hiatal hernia. The disorder arises when the upper section of the LES ascends above the diaphragm (the muscle separating your chest from your abdomen).
One of the diaphragm's crucial roles is to help keep acid in the stomach and ensure that it doesn't move up into the esophagus. If you develop a hiatal hernia, the acid from the stomach moves upwards into the esophagus, thus developing the symptoms of reflux disease.
The following are the common risk factors for reflux disease:
● Taking meals a few minutes before bedtime;
● Eating heavily or taking a nap right after a meal;
● Lying on your back after eating a large meal;
● Bending over at your waist after eating a large meal;
● Eating snacks right before going to sleep;
● Consuming foods such as mint, chocolate, citrus, onions, tomato, garlic, fatty or spicy foods;
● Heavy intake of certain beverages such as tea, coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks;
● Taking drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, hypertension medications and certain muscle relaxers.
How Can Acid Reflux Be Relieved Without Medication?
Firstly we want to say if you’re experiencing the symptoms you should speak to your medical provider for guidance. They and only they can diagnose if you have it or not.
That said, contracting reflux disease doesn't always call for medication or surgery. Relieving its symptoms is sometimes just a matter of adopting a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet.
If you have repeated episodes of reflux, try some of the following tips:
Eat Slowly And Sparingly
Overeating fills your stomach and more reflux will rise into the esophagus. Eat small meals frequently, rather than having three massive meals a day.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Such drinks make you burp, sending acid upwards towards the gut. Consider drinking still water which also helps keeping you hydrated.
Don't Take A Nap Immediately After Eating
When you’re sitting or standing, gravity helps keep the acid in the stomach. If you are going to sleep, do it at least three hours after eating. Avoid naps after lunch, midnight snacks or late suppers.
When sleeping, ensure that your head is 6-8 inches elevated above your feet. Extra-tall bed risers will effectively help raise your head above the legs. Avoid creating wedges by stacking pillows as they won't offer the uniform support you require.
Nicotine is known to cause the relaxation of the LES. So, if you smoke, try to quit to reduce your acid reflux.
While acid reflux causes uncomfortable symptoms, it is treatable. Some of the tips presented here may ease your condition without surgery or medication.
As mentioned above speak to your doctor or medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms.