Eating should be a pleasurable experience, but for 60 million people in Evans and across the country, there is less enjoyment in mealtime because the dessert that follows is a painful, burning sensation in the chest called acid reflux.
What is Heartburn and How Can I Treat It?
Nearly one in five people in Georgia suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Even otherwise healthy individuals can have heartburn. This is usually just shortened to acid reflux or heartburn, because let’s face it, that’s a mouthful! Speaking of mouthfuls, heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, usually following a meal.
In addition to the telltale burning in the chest, symptoms include a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, trouble swallowing, burping, regurgitation, nausea and bloating. Lying down often makes symptoms worse.
GERD has been linked to laryngeal cancer, and symptoms should not be ignored.
Evans ear, nose and throat specialists recommend the following steps for reducing acid reflux naturally.
How can you reduce acid reflux symptoms?
- Lower your food intake. Eating smaller portions will help reduce your odds of developing heartburn. Try dishing up less and taking your time when chewing. Bonus: you’ll avoid one of the seven deadly sins.
- Skip fatty, greasy and spicy foods. Foods that are fatty, greasy or spicy tend to cause heartburn to worsen. Load up on lean meats and leafy green vegetables instead.
- Don’t eat too soon to bedtime. Acid reflux symptoms are often worse when lying down, so be sure to space out your meals to allow yourself plenty of time before going to bed. Experts recommend a minimum of three hours.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a common heartburn trigger. Drink in moderation and, as with eating, cut yourself off a few hours before bedtime.
- Chew gum. Chewing gum, especially when it contains the ingredient bicarbonate, can help cut down on the amount of acid in your esophagus.
- Slow down. Maybe you want to work off that big slice of cheesecake by hitting the gym after eating. While a lofty goal, it’s best to wait 30 to 45 minutes after mealtimes before engaging in vigorous physical activity. This will help reduce your odds of heartburn.
These remedies should help reduce or eliminate acid reflux. If you still experience heartburn frequently, especially when it’s accompanied by other symptoms such as an unexplained weight loss, painful or difficult swallowing or a persistent sore throat, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a Evans ENT doctor.