Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a very common condition that affects the Digestive tract This can affect up to 20 percent of the North American population. Medications are available to treat this condition, but what are some home remedies that can be used for acid reflux?

What Causes Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when the stomach contents bypass the esophageal sphincter and flow back into the esophagus, mouth, or airways. Since the stomach contents are highly acidic due to the low pH of the stomach acid, this often leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of GERD can include heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, stomach pain, nausea, and gas. People are more likely to develop heartburn within hours of eating or lying down.

Because acid reflux affects other body systems, it can potentially cause oral health or respiratory problems if stomach acid gets into these areas. A 2011 review that surveyed nearly 15,000 GERD patients found that frequent heartburn was linked to lower health-related quality of life – for both physical and mental health. Relieving these symptoms could help reduce the symptoms, side effects, and complications associated with GERD.

Treatment of acid reflux

There are many possible treatments for acid reflux. Medical treatments for GERD can include drugs such as antacids, histamine receptor antagonists, and proton pump inhibitors. There are also options for surgical therapy when other treatments fail. One example is a procedure called laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery. However, many people prefer to make lifestyle changes before looking for these treatment options. Here we are going to describe some common home remedies for acid reflux.

Avoid triggers

One of the most commonly listed home remedies for acid reflux is to avoid certain trigger foods. Some people with GERD find that high-fat meals, spicy foods, acidic foods, chocolate, coffee, or alcohol can make their symptoms worse. These triggers can be different for everyone, and scientific evidence to show whether or not they work is inconclusive.

Avoid putting pressure on your stomach

Another known method of prevention is to minimize the pressure on the stomach. This can be achieved by wearing looser, comfortable clothing or by eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day rather than eating fewer large ones. It hasn’t been proven to be effective, but reducing pressure on the stomach may help reduce discomfort.

Don’t lie down right after you eat

Avoiding lying down after eating can potentially help minimize GERD symptoms. The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Problems recommends waiting at least three hours after eating to lie down.

One study found that a shorter interval between dinner and bedtime was linked to GERD flare-ups, so this could be a strategy worth trying. Raise the head to a height between six and eight inches while sleeping may also be helpful as it reduces the risk of stomach acid flowing back down the esophagus.

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can potentially reduce the severity of acid reflux symptoms. A review of 16 different studies found that the only confirmed effective lifestyle strategies for improving GERD symptoms were head elevation during sleep and weight loss in obese individuals. Another population-level study found that there may be a link between increases in body mass index (BMI) and the increased prevalence of GERD.

The two main home remedies for acid reflux that research supports are maintaining a healthy weight and elevating your head while you sleep. Other strategies, including avoiding trigger foods and reducing pressure on the stomach, might be helpful for some people on an individual basis. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these home remedies and to investigate other possible options.

References:

Badillo, R., Francis, D. (2014). Diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. World J Gastrointest Pharmacol Ther 5 (3): 105-105; 112. Doi: 10.4292 / wjgpt.v5.i3.105

Becher, A., El-Serag, H. (2011). Systematic review: the relationship between symptomatic response to proton pump inhibitors and health-related quality of life in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Ailment Pharmacol Ther 34 (6): 618- 627. Doi: 10.1111 / j.1365-2036.2011.04774.x

Corley, DA, Kubo, A. (2006). Body mass index and gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol 101 (11): 2619-2628. Doi: 10.1111 / j.1572-0241.2006.00849.x

Eating, Diet & Nutrition for GER & GERD. 2020 July. National Health Information Center for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: National Health Institutes. Accessed on January 27th 2021 via https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-adults/eating-diet-nutrition

Jarosz, M., Taraszewska, A. (2014). RIsk factors in gastroesophageal reflux disease: the role of diet. Prz Gastroenterol 9 (5): 297–29; 301. Doi: 10.5114 / pg.2014.46166

T. Kaltenbach, S. Crockett, LB Gerson (2006). Arch Intern Med 166 (9): 965-971. Doi: 10.1001 / archinte.166.9.965

Yang, JH, Kang, HS, Lee, S. et al. (2014). The recurrence of gastroesophageal reflux disease correlated with a short interval between dinner and bedtime. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 29 (4): 730-735. Doi: 10.1111 / jgh.12455

Image by Natural Herbs Clinic from Pixabay