Gastrointestinal acid reflux disease is a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment with a focus on preventative measures to ease symptoms. Here are some simple actions you can take to ease the symptoms of acid reflux, with or without the use of medication.
- Avoid spicy, fried and garlicky foods and other known irritants.
- Limit alcohol, citrus and acidy foods, and caffeine.
- Avoid very large meals containing a lot of bulk and calories.
- Eliminate or reduce other irritants such as smoking.
- Elevate the head of your bed (gravity helps the stomach contents stay in the stomach).
- Loosen your belt after eating.
If you still experience acid reflux symptoms after making these diet and lifestyle changes, you may wish to consider taking medication, which can further help ease symptoms by minimizing the production of acid or counteracting its effects. Here are three examples of commonly used medications and how they can help.
- Antacids (if taken infrequently) neutralize stomach acid, providing quick but short-term relief.
- Short-term blockers of acid production called H2 antagonists reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach. These help the body heal injuries caused by the acid.
- Long-term acid blockers called proton pump inhibitors (PPI) give longer term protection against acid production, which helps protect and heal the esophagus.
If you suspect you have gastrointestinal acid reflux disease, talk to your doctor about getting a medical diagnosis and to explore treatment options that will work for you.