How to prevent acid reflux

Heartburn or acid reflux is caused by stomach acid passing through the oesophageal sphincter into the oesophagus. Most people experience acid reflux at some point in their lives and isolated incidents are nothing to worry about, but they can possibly be indicative of more serious ailments.

The good news is that acid reflux can be mostly controlled. There are two options available, you can either buy acid reflux treatments online, or make some simple lifestyle changes. In this article, we’ll look at how to prevent acid reflux from ruining your life by focusing on the latter.

10 ways to prevent acid reflux:

Lose weight – Obesity is one of the leading causes of acid reflux according to Robert Kushner MD. Excess body fat puts pressure on your abdomen causing stomach acid to be pushed through the oesophageal sphincter into the throat. Losing weight is the easiest way to prevent this from occurring and has many other health benefits.

Be careful what you eat – Some types of food are known to aggravate the condition, so if you are not particularly overweight and still suffer from acid reflux you may want to consider cutting down the following types of food.

  • Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits
  • Caffeine – including coffee and energy drinks
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Fried or spicy foods
  • Onions

Eat smaller portions – The more you eat, the more your stomach becomes bloated, increasing pressure on your oesophageal sphincter. Eating smaller food portions is the best way to prevent this.

Don’t lie down after eating – When lying down it is much easier for stomach acid to pass into the oesophagus. It is a good idea to wait at least three hours before lying down following a meal.

Elevate your bed – If you suffer from acid reflux in bed, this is usually the result of lying down too quickly following a meal. So try not to eat anything just before you retire (see point 4). But if you find acid reflux still occurs, try raising the head of your bed by around six inches. This should help keep the acid in your stomach.

Monitor medications – Some medications are known to increase the risk of acid reflux. Such medications include:

  • Some anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta-agnostics such as albuterol
  • Anticholinergics which are used to treat allergies and glaucoma
  • Some sedatives and painkillers
  • Some antibiotics
  • Potassium
  • Iron tablets

If you are taking any of these drugs and are suffering from increased acid reflux, mention it to your doctor who may prescribe another drug which doesn’t affect the upper oesophagus. (Note: never stop taking medications without first consulting your doctor.)

Stop smoking – Nicotine is thought to relax the muscles surrounding the oesophageal sphincter and also reduces saliva’s ability to clear acid from the oesophagus. As if you didn’t need another reason to stop smoking.

Reduce alcohol intake – Like nicotine, alcohol is thought to relax the muscles surrounding the oesophageal sphincter. Cutting down your alcohol intake, particularly in the evening can reduce the effects of acid reflux.

Don’t wear tight clothing – Ill-fitting clothing can constrict your stomach, causing acid to be pushed into the oesophagus. Try not to tighten belts too tightly and women should make sure that bras are fitted properly.

Try gluten-free foods – Your heartburn or acid reflux may be a result of being gluten intolerant. Gluten is a protein found in many grains such as rye, barley and wheat. Try eliminating these by eating a gluten-free diet.

If you are still suffering from acid reflux after trying any of the above tips, you should contact your doctor for advice. There are medications available which can reduce the buildup of acid and alleviate the symptoms. Chronic acid reflux can lead to many other serious diseases so don’t put your health at risk and seek the advice of a professional.