Acid reflux is a digestive condition that millions of individuals deal with on a recurring basis. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to work properly.
This valve sits at the top of the stomach and bottom on the esophagus and is supposed to remain tightly closed unless food is passing through it into the stomach.
When it does not work, it may relax too frequently and let stomach contents move back into the esophagus. Acid reflux occurs when the acid from the stomach enters the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat area known as heartburn.
When heartburn occurs at least twice per week, you are considered to have acid reflux.
Besides the burning sensation in the chest, there are other symptoms of acid reflux including:
- An acidic or bitter taste in your mouth
- Bloody stools
- Chronic sore throat
- Chronic hiccups
There are a variety of reasons why you may experience acid reflux. Some of the more common reasons include:
- Hiatal hernia
- Eating large meals
- Lying down directly after eating
- Being overweight
Certain foods and beverages are also considered trigger foods because of the high rate of acid reflux associated with their consumption. Trigger foods may be different for everyone, but the most common ones include:
- Citrus fruit
- Spicy foods
- Overly fatty foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Caffeinated beverages
Anyone who has experienced acid reflux knows it can be uncomfortable, painful and debilitating. Fortunately, there are a number of options for treatment. One of the most common treatment options are a group of medications known as Proton Pump Inhibitors, of PPI. These medications work by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces, therefore reducing the occurrence of acid reflux.
Alternatives to PPI Drugs
If you are unable to take PPIs or would prefer not to, there are still a number of effective treatment options. In terms of medications, the following are also available:
Antacids are usually the first medication that people with acid reflux use for relief. It works by neutralizing the stomach acid but is only a temporary solution. This medication will not prevent acid reflux from occurring again and long term use is not recommended.
Similar to PPIs, these medications work by reduce the amount of stomach acid produced by your body. With less acid present, the likelihood of having acid reflux is reduced.
Another group of medications used to treat acid reflux, foaming agents, work by coating the stomach to prevent burning of acid reflux from occurring.
These medications work by strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter and promoting better digestion by emptying the stomach faster. Both these improvements lower the risk of acid reflux.
Alternatives to Medication
For those who would like to avoid medications entirely, there are a number of lifestyle and dietary changes that are extremely effective at preventing or reducing the occurrence of acid reflux. Making these changes can be as effective as medication without the long term dependence or negative side effects that are associated with them. Some of the most common changes include:
- Avoiding trigger foods and beverages
- Eating smaller meals
- Eating slower
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight if overweight
- Raising the head of the bed at least six inches
- Waiting three hours after eating before lying down
- Wearing loose fitting clothing
If these lifestyle changes are not working effectively enough, they can be done in conjunction with one of these home remedies:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming apple cider vinegar can reduce acid reflux symptoms when caused by a lack of stomach acid. To achieve optimal benefit, it must be raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. To try this remedy, mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and consume.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera juice can be a potent remedy for many digestive ailments, including acid reflux. It will reduce any inflammation in the stomach and esophagus as well as reduce acid reflux symptoms. To use this remedy, purchase a high quality juice and consume according to the manufacturers dosage recommendations.
While gulping down large amounts of water can actually exacerbate acid reflux, sipping water throughout the day will reduce it. By continuously having a small amount of water, it will keep the stomach contents where they belong.
Another home remedy for reducing acid reflux is to snack on almonds. Eating a few almonds just after a meal or throughout the day can help to neutralize stomach acid and redux acid reflux.
A teaspoon of baking soda can do wonders for relieving acid reflux symptoms. Baking soda is actually sodium bicarbonate, which is a basic substance that can neutralize stomach acid. It is also a temporary fix though and should not be used in excess or for more than a week at a time.
There are multiple different herbal teas that have been shown to reduce digestive ailments, including acid reflux. These including ginger and chamomile. Both will help to reduce inflammation present as well as reduce the acidity in your stomach.
Acid reflux is an unfortunate digestive condition that far too many people deal with. If you are suffering, make sure to consider all the options available for treatment. There is bound to be something that improves your symptoms.
The information provided here is meant to be informative and does not constitute medical advice in any way. If you have any questions or concern, be sure to speak with a medical professional for advice. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should never begin a treatment without first discussing it with their physician or midwife.