You watch with envy as your friends or family savor a delicious meal while you cautiously pick at your plate, wondering whether one bite now will mean a world of discomfort later thanks to acid reflux. You're not alone — one in five Americans has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While the experienced surgical team at Rockwall Surgical Specialists offers reflux surgery for patients with severe and chronic GERD, the steps you take on your own can also go a long way toward keeping you comfortable. And you may be able to avoid surgery if you keep acid indigestion at bay.
Thankfully, there are some great rules of thumb when it comes to managing acid reflux. These lifestyle changes can take the teeth out of acid reflux.
One of the more obvious triggers for acid reflux is the food you eat. You’d do well to avoid common triggers of stomach acids, such as:
There may be other foods that trigger your acid reflux that are unique to you. Familiarize yourself with your own triggers by keeping a food diary.
While the emphasis for controlling acid reflux is usually on foods that you should avoid, we want to cover a few that are generally better for acid reflux sufferers, such as:
As well, how you eat matters. We recommend that you thoroughly chew before swallowing, which saves your stomach from having to produce more acids to break down the food.
One of the biggest risk factors for acid reflux is carrying extra weight, which puts pressure on your abdomen and causes acids to rise into your esophagus. Losing weight not only helps with GERD, but it improves almost every other area of your health, too.
Another great trick for avoiding acid reflux is to remain upright and active after you eat, which helps the acids from rising up. The rule of thumb here is to wait at least three hours before lying down after you eat.
If your acid reflux flares at night, prop yourself up when you sleep. For this to work well, you can’t just raise your head — you need for the entire upper half of your body to be elevated about 6-9 inches. You can accomplish this using a large wedge pillow or raising the top end of your bed slightly.
There are any number of reasons why you shouldn’t smoke, and acid reflux is yet another. Smoking can weaken the sphincter in your lower esophagus, leading to ongoing problems with GERD.
We suggest that you avoid tight-fitting clothes that constrict your abdomen. Instead, wear clothes that allow your abdomen to remain in a natural position, which takes the pressure off of your stomach and esophagus.
If you have more questions about managing your acid reflux or GERD, or if you can’t find any relief with these lifestyle changes and think you may need surgery, please contact one of our offices in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, Forney, and Terrell, Texas.