Do you often experience the pain of heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease? You might take comfort in knowing that making diet changes as well as other lifestyle changes may be all you need to do. Here's how.
What Kind of Diet Changes Can Help Acid Reflux?
One thing you can do to reduce your risk for heartburn and acid reflux disease is to eat low-fat, high-protein meals. Also, eat smaller meals more frequently; stop eating before you get too full.
It may also help to avoid certain beverages and foods.
Avoid beverages that seem to trigger heartburn or make it worse, such as:
- Coffee or tea (both regular and decaffeinated)
- Other beverages that contain caffeine
- Carbonated beverages
Avoid foods that seem to trigger your heartburn or make it worse, such as:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons
- Tomatoes and products that contain tomatoes, such as tomato sauce and salsa
- Mint or peppermint
- Fatty or spicy foods, such as chili or curry
- Onions and garlic
What Other Lifestyle Changes Can Treat Acid Reflux?
In addition to acid reflux diet changes, see which of the following lifestyle changes you can make.
- Quit smoking. Smoking may increase your risk for heartburn and acid reflux disease in many ways. For example, it may increase the amount of acid secreted by your stomach and interfere with the function of muscles that help keep acid down.
Reduce reflux while sleeping. These steps will help reduce reflux when you sleep:
- Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 to 6 inches. This helps keep your stomach's contents down. However, it doesn't work to simply use lots of extra pillows because this position may increase pressure on your abdomen.
- Stop eating at least two or three hours before lying down.
- Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
Lessen the pressure. Often, extra pressure around your abdomen increases acid reflux. Try these steps:
- Don't wear tight clothes or tight belts.
- If you're overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
Can Medication Help Heartburn?
Over-the-counter medicine can help neutralize stomach acid. Antacids give quick, short-term relief for many people. Don't overdo it, though, or you may trigger other side effects, such as diarrhea or constipation. Brands that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide can help reduce these side effects.
Other medicine helps block the production of acid. Called H2 blockers, these include Axid AR, Pepcid AC, Tagament HB, and Zantac 75. A third type of medicine -- proton pump inhibitors -- can help if you have heartburn often, more than twice a week for 14 days. These include Prevacid 24HR, Prilosec OTC, and Zegerid OTC.
If you find you need to take heartburn medicine for more than two weeks, see your doctor. Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease. These are examples of medications that may trigger acid reflux:
- Aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Some muscle relaxants
- Certain blood pressure drugs