How To Avoid Gerd Symptoms
You can reduce or eliminate the discomfort of GERD symptoms by taking a few simple steps. These include:
- Avoiding fast food
- Exercising regularly with an empty stomach
- Avoiding stress
If you notice that your GERD symptoms are interfering with your daily life or drastically restricting what you can eat, consider talking with your doctor about treatment options, says Dr. Purcell.
If you need further treatment, your doctor can help you find a treatment that works best for you and will help you find relief from GERD.
Remedies For Heartburn After Meals
- Antacids are among the more commonly used medication to remedy heartburn after eating. If persistent, medical treatment needs to be sought. Antacids should not be used indefinitely as prolonged use of certain types may lead to complications.
- Increase water intake after a meal. It can help wash down any acid that has entered the esophagus and also help with hastening stomach emptying to some degree.
- Take a walk after a meal but do not run or exercise. The movement may help with stomach emptying and being upright utilizes gravity to prevent reflux.
- Milk and other dairy products may be helpful in neutralizing the stomach acid and soothing the esophagus. However, this is for short term relief and large amounts of dairy should not be used to treat acid reflux.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Even if you didnt eat for a few hours before you laid down to sleep, you could start feeling heartburn once you lay down immediately.
Why does this happen if your body has already had ample time to digest?
Simply put, the position that you are in when you lay on your back puts extra pressure on the sphincter at the bottom of your esophagus.
This sphincter is the LES, the muscle separating your stomach from your esophagus and is the root of acid reflux disorders.
When the LES is pressed on when you lie down flat, it can cause reflux to occur.
To avoid this, make sure you are elevating your head and shoulders when you sleep and not simply laying flat.
This can easily be done by putting a few pillows behind you.
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Heartburn And Reflux After Meals
Upon eating, the stomach produces larger quantities of stomach acid and releases digestive enzymes. Once food enters into the stomach, the acid and enzymes help to chemically digest the food. It is further aided by strong contractions of the stomach that are part of physical digestion. The increased stomach acid and the strong contractions can then lead to acid reflux especially when the lower esophageal sphincter is weak. It is further exacerbated by certain foods and beverages.
Are There Any Tests For Heartburn
If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.
If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.
There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:
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Heartburn And The Lower Esophageal Sphincter
Heartburn is burning chest sensation or even pain. The majority of times it is due to the backward flow of stomach acid and digestive enzymes into the esophagus. These acids and enzyme cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus which is not equipped to handle these corrosive substances. The main reasons for reflux is a weak or dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter .
Normally the LES, which is a group of muscles, keeps the junction between the esophagus and stomach closed. It opens momentarily when food has to pass down from the esophagus into the stomach. However, under certain circumstances and in certain individuals the LES fails to function effectively. This means that stomach acid and digestive enzymes can flow up into the esophagus.
It is important to note that sometimes a burning chest pain may not be due to acid reflux. Cardiac chest pain can also present similar to heartburn in most people although it is typically described as a suffocating sharp pain.
Raise The Head Of Your Bed
Try elevating the head of your bed about 4 to 6 inches off the ground to prevent heartburn and reflux. When the upper body is elevated, gravity makes it less likely for stomach contents to come back up into the esophagus. Its important to note that you must actually raise the bed itself, not just your head. Propping yourself up with extra pillows puts your body into a bent position, which can increase pressure on your abdomen and aggravate heartburn and reflux symptoms.
You can raise your bed by placing 4- to 6-inch wood blocks securely under the two bedposts at the head of your bed. These blocks can also be inserted between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. You may be able to find elevating blocks in medical supply stores and some drugstores.
Sleeping on a special wedge-shaped pillow is another effective approach. A wedge pillow slightly elevates the head, shoulders, and torso to prevent reflux and heartburn. You can use a wedge pillow while sleeping on your side or on your back without causing any tension in the head or neck. Most pillows on the market are elevated between 30 to 45 degrees, or 6 to 8 inches at the top.
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What Food Kills Heartburn
The 5 Best Foods to Combat Acid Reflux
- Organic Chicken or Turkey. If you are trying to fight acid reflux, eat lean meats that are low in fat and easier to digest like chicken or turkey.
- Fish/Seafood. Did you know that seafood is a great way to avoid reflux symptoms?
- Sugar, honey, jelly, jam, syrup, marshmallows.
- Angel food cake.
- Non-fat or low-fat pudding, custard, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet.
- Low-fat cookies.
We’ll go over some quick tips to get rid of heartburn, including:
What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they dont seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually cant stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they dont, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids dont work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?
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Pass On Greasy Fatty Foods
Fried, greasy, and fatty foods can all cause heartburn and lead to reflux because they prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from fully tightening this creates an opening for stomach acids to flow upward. Greasy, heavier foods are also harder to digest so the stomach empties more slowly, which can trigger heartburn. And eating too much fried and high-fat foods increases your risk of obesity, which in turn increases the chances of experiencing uncomfortable acid reflux.
Watch How And When You Eat
How and when you eat may have as much to do with heartburn as what you eat. In addition to avoiding foods that trigger your heartburn, watch the volume of food you consume as well as your timing. Chowing down on hefty portion sizes is often a sure-fire recipe for a bad bout of heartburn keep portion sizes small. Also be sure to leave plenty of time between your evening meal and when you head to bed. Stop eating several hours before your bedtime to give your belly time to digest your food.
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Foods That Could Trigger Heartburn And Indigestion
Each person is unique, and what triggers stomach problems for you may not be what triggers them in someone else. Keeping a food diary is useful for determining what foods trigger your indigestion. Once your food triggers are identified, it is best to eliminate them from your diet completely to avoid experiencing further stomach problems and heartburn episodes. That being said, there are several foods that are known to trigger indigestion in many people, including:
- Caffeinated beverages
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
Serious Conditions That Mimic Heartburn
Heartburn-like pain is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease . But several other conditions can cause a burning feeling in your chest.
Most of the time, your doctor will be able to identify whether you have heartburn or GERD by doing tests.
Here are nine other conditions that can cause heartburn-like pain.
1. AnginaAngina, or chest pain caused by lack of blood flow to the heart, can feel a lot like heartburn.The major key is if youre getting heartburn when youre doing strenuous or moderate activity, says Dr. Ryan Madanick, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in Chapel Hill.
If youre 50 or older and getting heartburnespecially if you havent had this kind of pain beforeit can raise suspicion of angina. Suspicions can also be raised if youre younger but have heart risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.
2. GallstonesAlthough gallstones dont always cause symptoms, a stone blocking your bile duct can hurt, usually in the middle or upper-right side of the abdomen.
Pain may be cramping, dull, or sharp, and often strikes minutes after you eat.
3. Stomach UlcerUlcers can cause a gnawing, burning sensation, usually felt in the upper abdomen. The pain can find its way up to the chest, Madanick says.
Certain anti-inflammatory drugs , and osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates, can also cause stomach ulcers.
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If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional
That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.
If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:
- Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
- Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty swallowing
With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.
When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?
Sometimes a person canât tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.
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Don’t Lie Flat When You Sleep
When you lie flat your stomach contents press against the LES. Keeping your head higher than your stomach helps reduce this pressure.
You can elevate your head in a couple of ways:
- Place bricks, blocks, or something sturdy and secure under the legs at the head of your bed.
- Use a wedge-shaped GERD pillow under your head and shoulders.
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Cooking Tips To Prevent Heartburn And Indigestion
If you suffer from heartburn, you can use different cooking approaches, which may help to alleviate stomach problems including acid reflux.
- Try cooking with as little fat as possible.
- Skip deep frying and pan frying.
- If youre going to sauté, use non-stick sprays as opposed to butter.
- Broiling, steaming, boiling, grilling and roasting are healthier ways to cook meats and veggies because they dont require high levels of fat.
- To get flavor into your food, use heartburn friendly spices as well as broths and low-acid juices instead of oils, which are high in fat.
In addition to eating heartburn-friendly foods and cooking with less fat, it is important to remember that eating large meals and eating before going to bed are likely to increase heartburn. Be sure to pay attention to portion control and timing of meals to avoid indigestion.
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Opt Out Of Coffee And Soda
Any type of soda or carbonated beverage is an irritant and is likely to trigger heartburn. Coffee is also commonly responsible for heartburn even if it’s decaffeinated. Steer clear of these drinks and any other caffeinated beverages if you’re trying to avoid heartburn and acid reflux. If you just can’t resist a daily caffeine fix, try to drink it in the morning, or early in the day, since reflux tends to be worse at night or when you’re lying down.
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Heartburn Triggers: Heartburn And Diet
A number of foods and drinks can cause the LES to relax. Food and drinks that commonly trigger heartburn include:
- alcohol, particularly red wine
- citrus fruits and products, such as lemons, oranges and orange juice
- coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda
However, unless these foods are causing you heartburn you don’t have to avoid them. To prevent heartburn after meals:
- Don’t overeat. Eat five or six small meals each day, instead of several large meals.
- Don’t eat before bedtime. Allow 2 hours to digest your food before lying down. This allows time for the food to pass out of the stomach and into the small intestine, rather than having it back up into the esophagus. Lying down makes digestion difficult and makes heartburn more likely.
What To Do If Everything I Eat Gives Me Gas
If you have issues with gas after eating, here are a few tips to help keep things calmer:
1. Increase Fluid Intake
Prior to meals, drink extra fluids. Try not to drink during your meal, because this dilutes the acids in your stomach and keeps food from breaking down properly. If you need to drink during a meal, take small sips only.
2. Avoid Swallowing Air
If you eat too fast, you will take in too much air and this will cause excess gas. Eat slowly and take your time. This will prevent too much air in your digestive system.
Try to stay away from things that cause you to swallow air prior to meals. Dont smoke, drink from straws, or chew gum at least 30 minutes before eating. Some of the gas you experience may actually begin to build up before you eat.
3. Use Digestive Enzymes
Take a digestive enzyme that helps break down gas bubbles in your stomach. You can use the ones designed for eating beans, or a natural supplement containing papaya. Take them at least 30 minutes prior to eating. You may need at least one tablet per one-cup of food that you plan on eating.
4. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has been known to help relieve gas. Medical grade activated charcoal is safe for humans to take and completely different than the type you use for cooking. Just use caution, activated charcoal can cause constipation in some people.
5. Stay Away from Sorbitol
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When To See A General Surgeon
Because GERD and acid reflux are not usually serious conditions, it is possible to manage it on your own. However, if these conditions do not improve, they can lead to esophagus cancer.
If you notice that your symptoms keep getting worse, then it is time to see a doctor. Other warning signs for severe GERD and acid reflux include chest pain, jaw pain, or arm pain. Also, if you experience shortness of breath, you should visit with a doctor or surgeon as soon as possible. Additionally, if your symptoms do not improve after taking medication for two weeks, you may need surgical treatment.
How Your Healthcare Provider Can Help
If your heartburn is frequent and it is upsetting your daily life, have it evaluated by your healthcare provider. Chronic heartburn is a symptom of GERD and some other digestive disorders.
Un- and under-treated acid reflux may lead to complications, including esophageal cancer. Your healthcare provider can prescribe a treatment for heartburn or acid reflux that can reduce these risks.
If you are prescribed medication for heartburn, be sure to take your medication at the same time every day. If you are prone to forgetting, set an alarm to remind you or take your medication when you do another daily activity that you dont forget doing, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face.
If you are taking an antacid more than once or twice a week, see your healthcare provider about modifying your treatment plan.
Heartburn Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare providers appointment to help you ask the right questions.
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