What is GERD or acid reflux?

What's acid reflux/GERD?

Do you have an unpleasant feeling of your final meal coming back into your throat? The uncomfortable, even painful, burning sensation in your chest can mean that you may be a heartburn victim. Heartburn is the burning feeling you get when the stomach contents back up into the esophagus toward the mouth. It is common to experience it from time to time. And it seems everyone you speak to has another home remedy for heartburn they swear by. But are these remedies safe? Unless your esophagus has damage a physician has seen on tests and requires medication, you can try natural acid reflux remedies. Determine which home remedies for acid reflux are safe to attempt at home and can help. It's recommended to consult your doctor and seek medical attention if you are unsure.

Almost everyone has experienced occasional heartburn (acid reflux) at some point. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you encounter acid reflux over twice a week, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In cases like this, heartburn is only one of several symptoms, together with coughing and chest pain.

GERD may be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as antacids, and lifestyle or dietary changes. Prescription medications may be required in more severe cases to reduce damage to the esophagus.

While traditional medicine is the most frequent type of GERD therapy, there are some home remedies you can attempt to reduce cases of acid reflux. Speak with Your gastroenterologist or health expert about the following choices.

See: Acupuncture treatment for GERD

Home remedies for GERD or acidity

You can try some or all of these home remedies after speaking with your doctor.

- Eat 3 hours before lying down

Eating smaller meals places less strain on the stomach, which may prevent the backflow of stomach acids. By eating more frequently but smaller food portion sizes, you can decrease heartburn and consume fewer calories overall.

Additionally, it is essential to avoid lying down soon after eating. Doing this can trigger heartburn frequently. The (NIDDK) National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive and Kidney Diseases advises waiting three hours after meals. As soon as you go to bed, elevate your head with pillows to prevent nighttime heartburn.

- Eat foods which help

No one magic food may treat acid reflux. Still, along with avoiding trigger foods, a few other dietary changes can help. The American Academy of Family Physicians advocates low-fat, high-protein meals. Reducing dietary fat consumption can then decrease your symptoms while obtaining enough protein and fiber will keep you full and avoid overeating. Try integrating some of these foods into your diet to help your acid reflux. After every meal, you might even consider chewing non-mint gum. This action could help increase saliva in your mouth and keep acid from the esophagus. 

- No smoking

Heartburn is another reason to stop smoking. And this is a big one for individuals with GERD. Smoking damages the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that prevents stomach acids from flowing back up. When the LES muscles are weakened from smoking, you might encounter more frequent heartburn episodes. It's time to give up smoking. You will feel much better. Secondhand smoke may also be problematic if you are fighting acid reflux or GERD. Here are some pointers that will help you stop smoking.

- Herbal remedies

These herbs have been used for GERD:

chamomile

licorice

marshmallow

slippery elm

These can be found in nutritional supplements and tincture form, in addition to teas. There are not enough extensive studies to demonstrate they can really treat GERD. Furthermore, they may interfere with medications you may take - consult a physician before use. Personal testimonials report that herbs can be a natural and efficient way to decrease the symptoms of GERD. Make sure you buy herbs from a reputable source.

Get to a healthy weight

While heartburn can occur to anybody, GERD appears to be prevalent in overweight or obese adults. Excessive weight -- particularly in the abdominal area -- puts more pressure on the gut. Thus, you're at a higher risk of stomach acids functioning back into the esophagus and causing heartburn. If you are obese, the Mayo Clinic suggests a steady weight loss plan of 1 or 2 pounds weekly. On the flip side, if you are considered to be at a healthy weight, then be sure to keep it with a healthy diet and routine exercise.

Find the foods and drink culprits

Regardless of your weight, there are particular known trigger foods and drinks that could increase your risk of acid reflux. With GERD, you should be particularly wary of items that can result in symptoms. Consider avoiding These foods and drinks :

fried foods

citrus fruit juices

Tomato sauce and other tomato-based products

high-fat meals, such as quick food products and fatty foods

garlic

onions

soda

caffeine

chocolate

mint

alcohol

By limiting or avoiding these causes altogether, you might experience fewer symptoms. You might also need to keep a food journal to help identify problem foods. Get a food journal.

See: Ayurveda treatment for GERD and Acidity

Lifestyle remedies for GERD & acidity

There are some lifestyle & dietary changes that may help GERD, acidity, and heartburn:

- Avoid tight clothes

There is nothing wrong with wearing tight clothes - that is unless you are experiencing GERD symptoms. Wearing clothes that are too tight can increase acid reflux episodes. This effect is particularly true with tight bottoms and straps: Both put unnecessary pressure on the stomach, thereby contributing to a heartburn risk. For the sake of acid reflux, loosen up your clothes.

- Relaxation techniques to lower stress

GERD itself can be quite stressful. Since esophageal muscles play a huge part in maintaining gut acids down where they belong, it might help learn techniques that can relax both your body and mind. Yoga has enormous benefits by boosting mind-body awareness. If you are not a yogi, you may even attempt quiet meditation and deep breathing for a few minutes daily to tame your anxiety levels. Although it's unknown exactly how stress may affect acid reflux, studies have demonstrated that both are undeniably linked. You should try to identify the root causes of anxiety in your life and brainstorm sustainable coping strategies. Ideas may include:

Meditation

Deep breathing

Spending time in nature

Exercising

Although gastric reflux is common, it may result in serious complications, such as Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. If you struggle with other reflux symptoms or heartburn, be sure to consult with your medical care provider. They may recommend medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both.

- Peppermint

Peppermint relaxes the gut and makes you feel better after taking it. However, peppermint may also increase acid reflux symptoms in some people -- because it might loosen the muscle that prevents fluids from flowing back up into the esophagus. Whether peppermint is useful may depend on the person. You may try sipping tea or taking a peppermint tablet, but if this treatment instead raises your acid reflux, think about trying ginger. Ginger is calming and can reduce inflammation in the gut. Both ginger and peppermint can help with diarrhea, gas, and bloating, too.

With the prevalence of essential oils, some believe using ginger or peppermint essential oil as an aid for digestion. Consult with your physician before applying essential oils internally or topically. Essential oils may interact with medications, as every individual's body reacts differently to those oils. As the oils aren't regulated, there may be inconsistencies in what is the actual product purchased.

- Baking soda

A little baking soda mixed with water may decrease your stomach's acidity level, states Rouzer. It functions like an over-the-counter antacid, but a baking soda concoction does not taste as good, unlike those fruity delights. If you have baking soda in your pantry, try this home remedy when you are desperate for acid reflux relief.

- Ayurvedic home remedies

Ayurveda states that reflux occurs when an individual has an imbalance of Pitta or water and fire qualities. Other indicators of an imbalanced Pitta may include a reddened face, higher blood pressure, sarcasm, anger, or diarrhea. Ayurvedic strategies to deal with reflux involve balancing the fiery nature of Pitta with attributes that are cooling. Whether you explain the state of reflux through the lens of Ayurvedic or Western medicine, practitioners from both approaches agree on these basic guidelines for bettering its consequences.

- Drink for digestion

Try to drink your fluids between meals vs. with your meal. This staggering will help to keep the quantity on your stomach down at mealtimes. Avoid carbonated drinks as the bubbles in carbonated beverages may result in burping, which provides opportunities for acid to reflux back into the food pipe.

Eat smaller meals more frequently

The greater the quantity of food and drink in the gut, the higher chance of it splashing up the esophagus. Avoid eating until you are full as it pressures the sphincter. Eat a minimum of three meals daily to avoid getting hungry and then overeating.

Chewing gum

Chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after dinner or lunch could decrease acid levels in the esophagus. However, for many people, peppermint chewing can worsen symptoms. There is no harm in chewing gum after a meal to find out if it soothes acid reflux. You might want to avoid peppermint or spearmint flavors if you can not tolerate them.

Aloe vera juice

The gel from aloe vera leaves is famous for soothing a sunburn - but what about heartburn? Some people today take aloe vera to decrease stomach acid and calm irritation. Try aloe vera juice from a reliable source so that you are getting a pure and safe product.

Bananas

Bananas are a dull, low-acid fruit that we often find to be gentle on the digestive tract. "The vitamins in bananas help prevent gastrointestinal spasms, but it is not clear whether they could influence acid reflux. Bananas are a fantastic snack for most people, and they may help your heartburn symptoms as well.

-  Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Even though the exact reason isn't known, alcohol and caffeine are commonly reported to precede heartburn. One thought is that these chemicals relax the esophageal sphincter, resulting in a higher prospect of reflux into the esophagus. Some scientists also think that alcoholic or caffeinated drinks' acidic nature leads to high gastric acidity and, thus, reflux. While the specific method requires further research, you might want to try eliminating caffeine and alcohol from your diet temporarily to observe the effects if you experience acid reflux.

- Apple cider vinegar

Swallowing a small amount (a teaspoon) of unprocessed apple cider vinegar mixed with water can lower the gut's acidity level. 

Apple cider vinegar is generally safe to try for acid reflux so long as you use a small amount, and the apple cider vinegar is diluted.

- Probiotics

Probiotics are helpful for an assortment of gastrointestinal issues -- such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating. It is essential to buy probiotics from a reliable supplement manufacturer. You want to be sure you're getting an excellent product. Test out probiotics for heartburn relief so long as they are from a respectable company.

See: Acid Reflux Diet for GERD

Precautions

The following symptoms may be signs of a severe illness, and you should seek prompt medical care:

Severe chest pain

Sudden weight loss

Change in stool color

Bloody vomit

Trouble swallowing

Frequent heartburn may be a significant issue. Should you experience heartburn two or more times per week, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

In this chronic illness, frequent exposure to stomach acid irritates and damages the esophagus. Over time, that could result in problems like difficulty swallowing. An estimated 40 percent of Americans report GERD symptoms - but the condition can significantly improve with lifestyle changes.

If you have tried simple home remedies and lifestyle modifications, and have frequent heartburn, seek your family physician or a gastroenterologist's advice. Numerous treatments could help, including drugs and minimally invasive surgery for acid reflux.

See: Functional medicine for GERD

Summary

Home remedies can help alleviate the occasional heartburn episode, in addition to some cases of GERD. When prolonged, uncontrolled acid reflux happens, you put yourself at a higher risk of esophageal damage. This may include ulcers, a narrowed esophagus, and even esophageal cancer. Nonetheless, it's essential to understand that home remedies alone might not work for acid reflux and GERD. Speak with a gastroenterologist about how some of these remedies can complement a medical treatment program. Acid reflux is normal and occurs when the contents of the gut travel back up the food pipe. Frequent or prolonged acid reflux may result in a more severe condition called GERD. Some home remedies and lifestyle tips may help reduce or prevent acid reflux. These include losing weight, keeping a food journal, eating regular meals, and raising the head of their mattress. Anyone who encounters acid reflux for more than a few weeks should see a physician.


See: Soothe Your Acid Reflux And Prevent GERD With This Yoga Series

References

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See: Essential oils for heartburn & acid reflux relief

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