Acid reflux is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. The main sign of acid reflux is a feeling of heartburn – a burning sensation that starts in the upper part of the stomach and gradually spreads upwards to the esophagus and throat. Other common symptoms are upper abdominal and chest pain, nausea, sour taste in the mouth, bloating , belching, indigestion and burning pain when swallowing hot drinks. These symptoms may come and go, often worsening after eating. Sometimes, along with acid reflux, there are some unusual symptoms that can make diagnosis difficult because they resemble other conditions. Such rare symptoms may include a persistent cough, gum problems, bad breath, sore throat, hoarse voice and severe chest pain.
What can be the causes of acid reflux?
Under normal conditions, a round muscle in the lower part of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) prevents the return of stomach contents. When for some reason the function of this muscle is disturbed, reflux occurs. Some of the factors and conditions that can cause reflux are pregnancy, smoking, overeating, consumption of too spicy food, frequent use of alcohol, overweight. Some of the more serious causes of acid reflux include hiatal hernia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and others. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that 30-45% of acid reflux cases are due to genetic factors and heredity.
Acid reflux is extremely common, with 1 in 3 adults experiencing reflux every few days and 1 in 10 at least once a day. In many cases, the condition passes quickly, but it is still very unpleasant and should be put in order as soon as possible.
What helps with heartburn?
Usually, the treatment of acid reflux with drugs is prolonged, and when it is stopped, the symptoms return quickly. And, although over-the-counter medications are effective, there are some home remedies and methods that can relieve heartburn.
The chemicals and toxins contained in cigarettes damage the lower esophageal sphincter, reducing its tone. This leads to the weakness of the sphincter and the inability to close it completely.
Be careful with medicines
Some medications can further worsen the condition. They can irritate the esophagus and sphincter. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, are among the most common causes of acid reflux. Others with a similar effect are antibiotics, theophylline, diazepam, nifedipine, antidepressants, osteoporosis drugs, blood pressure control drugs. To avoid medication-induced acid reflux, you can try some helpful tips:
- Do not take more than the prescribed dose.
- Some medicines must be taken with food and others on an empty stomach. Carefully follow the instructions for the user, the instructions for use or ask your doctor how best to take a particular medicine.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice that any medicine causes or worsens reflux. Changing the dose or changing the medication may solve the problem.
- Some of the medications can be taken as a paste or cream instead of a pill, which can also reduce stomach irritation.
Reduce your weight
Being overweight puts extra pressure on the stomach and promotes reflux. Studies show that losing 10% of body fat can drastically reduce reflux symptoms.
Change your posture
Lying down or leaning forward makes reflux worse. Wearing a tight belt or sitting for long periods of time during the day can lead to increased pressure on the stomach, which can also cause reflux.
- Try not to eat for about three hours before going to bed, and don’t drink a lot of fluids two hours before.
- Raise the top of the mattress by 10-20 cm (for example with a book). In this condition, natural gravity prevents stomach acids from returning to the esophagus. Do not place extra pillows under your head, as this can increase abdominal pressure.
- Sleep on your left side. Some research shows that sleeping on your right side creates extra pressure, which increases acid reflux symptoms.
Stress also increases stomach acid, but the relationship is a bit more complicated. It is believed that stress does not directly increase the production of stomach acid, but rather increases the perception of increased acidity and the symptoms of reflux.
Watch how, what and when you eat
Do not eat large portions of food. Take small bites and chew slowly to give your stomach time to digest the food.
Certain foods can increase stomach acid, usually tomatoes or citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee, mint, hot drinks, fried or too fatty foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks. Exclude these foods from your menu
Avoid fish oil supplements. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is recommended for the control and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, depression and many other diseases. Despite the huge benefits it provides, it can lead to acid reflux. The oil, not the fish, is responsible for this effect. Fish is low in fat and high in protein, making it an excellent food for people with stomach problems, as long as it is used as a food that has a soothing effect on the stomach.
Avoid mint. Mint, like fish oil, is a double-edged sword when it comes to the stomach. Peppermint tea, dragees, or peppermint candies are often recommended for stomach upsets, but sometimes these remedies are not suitable for people with reflux. The soothing and analgesic effect of menthol causes relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which can increase reflux.
Home remedies to relieve acid reflux
Besides eliminating bad breath and preventing tooth decay, chewing gum has another advantage. Chewing sugar-free gum 30 minutes after a meal stimulates the secretion of saliva, which helps clear accumulated stomach acids faster.
Apple cider vinegar
It sounds illogical in the presence of burning and discomfort in the stomach and esophagus to take extra acid, but in some cases it has an effect. Sometimes acid reflux is the result of a lack of acid, as a result of which the lower esophageal sphincter does not receive a clear enough signal to close. If this is the case, you can help yourself by taking a spoonful of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. A glass of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice can have a similar effect. You can apply these recipes before each meal, 2-3 times a day or before going to bed. If you notice that this makes your reflux worse, stop taking it.
Baking soda is the most common heartburn prescription. The effectiveness of soda is due to its main (alkaline) properties that neutralize stomach acids.
It is recommended to mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. This recipe is not recommended for daily or long-term use, as it can increase the concentration of sodium in the body and lead to unpleasant side effects such as bloating and nausea.
Oatmeal, in addition to being a healthy and filling breakfast, is a suitable remedy for acid reflux. A portion of oatmeal can cause an immediate burning and discomfort effect.
Couscous and rice
Couscous (wheat semolina), bulgur and rice (especially brown) are satisfying and useful foods that regulate the acidity of stomach contents.
Raw almonds are an alkaline food that balances the pH of the stomach and are a good source of calcium that has strong antacid properties.
Banana and melon
Bananas and melons are a snack and have the ability to reduce stomach acidity. In 1% of cases, however, worsening was reported.
Chicken and turkey
Chicken and turkey are also among the foods suitable for acid reflux. Prepared by boiling, baking, grilling or stewing (not frying), they aid digestion and reduce acidity.
Cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, celery, root vegetables are suitable foods for acid reflux
Acid reflux to release herbs
Ginger is one of the best foods for acid reflux. It has been used since ancient times as an anti-inflammatory agent and for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.
Ginger root can be easily chopped or grated. It can be used as an additive in cooking, an addition to shakes and fruit juices.
Licorice root has natural healing properties. Its use in the form of capsules or lozenges before meals can prevent acid reflux.
Aloe is a natural remedy for various conditions. The use of aloe vera juice for wounds and burns is well known, but it also has a soothing effect on the stomach. Aloe suppresses inflammation of the stomach and esophagus, which causes relief and less irritation in acid reflux. Drinking half a glass of aloe juice before a meal can reduce stomach acidity. Sometimes aloe juice has a laxative effect, which must be taken into account in conditions associated with upset stomach and diarrhea. Taking 60 ml of unprocessed aloe juice once a day can be enough to settle the stomach and reduce reflux.
Chamomile or fenugreek tea can also reduce acid reflux symptoms.
Spices that relieve acid reflux
Parsley is used in all conditions of upset stomach and indigestion. Adding parsley to meals or salads is an easy way to reduce acid reflux.
Dill improves stomach function and is an excellent supplement for acid reflux. It can be added to meals daily, sent or consumed as a tea before each meal.
Additives to relieve acid reflux
Saccharomices Boulardii is a probiotic that aids in the absorption of key vitamins for optimal health and normal digestion.
There is evidence that increased folic acid intake reduces the incidence of acid reflux by about 40%. A good way to increase your folic acid levels is to eat foods like liver, asparagus, spinach, okra and beans. Decreased levels of vitamins B2 and B6 are also associated with an increased risk of developing reflux.