The number of people who suffer from acid reflux has gone up significantly over the last few years. Could it be because of our change in lifestyles or because of our changing diet? If you have had acid reflux for the longest time, you clearly need not be told how frustrating this condition can be. Acid reflux is the most noticeable symptom of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). This chronic condition can have serious consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, most cases of acid reflux respond well to treatment with a combination of lifestyle changes and home remedies. Read on to learn how to get rid of acid reflux.
What Causes Acid Reflux
One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia. This occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter ) move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Normally, the diaphragm helps keep acid in our stomach. But if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease.
These are other common risk factors for acid reflux disease:
- Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal
- Being overweight or obese
- Eating a heavy meal and lying on your back or bending over at the waist
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Eating certain foods, such as citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods
- Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea
- Being pregnant
- Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, certain muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications
Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux disease and may be described as a burning pain under the middle of the chest. It occurs after meals and usually becomes worse when you lie down, bend over or during physical exertion.
Chronic heartburn is not a diagnostic symptom as it may be caused by other conditions, especially a stomach ulcer. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, and an infection by a species of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori can also cause heartburn.
Home Remedies for Acid Reflux
Frequent and severe bouts of acid reflux require medical treatment. If you experience only mild symptoms, you can try some natural home remedies to get relief. If the problem occurs more than twice in a week, then you should consult your doctor.
1. Chamomile Tea
Sometimes an attack of acid reflux is caused by stress or anxiety. Chamomile tea has been documented to significantly reduce such symptoms. Also it has mild anti-inflammatory and alkaline properties, which can directly help in easing the symptoms of acid reflux.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
- Mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water.
- Drink it 30 minutes before eating a meal.
- Do this on a regular basis, at least for a few months.
3. Aloe Vera
Take at least 2 ounces of non-processed aloe vera on a daily basis. This wonder plant has been known to significantly reduce inflammations in the stomach.
- Just remember not to take too much Aloe Vera because it can produce a laxative effect.
Bananas are rich in potassium, which when mixed with saliva and other digestive juices can produce a very strong alkali, which would then neutralize the excess acid. It also stimulates the production of stomach mucus, which protects the stomach from the harmful effects of stomach acids. Make bananas an integral part of your diet.
5. Baking Soda
It does not taste that great but a spoonful of baking soda mixed in a glass of water can effectively help you get rid of acid reflux. This simple mixture will neutralize the amount of acid in your stomach.
- If you’re suffering from chronic acid reflux, remember not to use this method because this mixture contains a high amount of salt.
6. Chewing Gum
As soon as acid starts to reflux, find some gum to chew. The simple act of gum chewing can significantly boost the amount of saliva in your mouth. The best part is that saliva comes with compounds such as mucin, proteins, and prostaglandin E2 that can provide a much-needed protection to the esophagus.
Having oatmeal for breakfast is one of the best things you can do to treat acid reflux. It is rich in fiber and provided you drink enough water, it will help your digestive system to move along at an optimal pace. This will prevent the formation of excess stomach acids.
8. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root is arguably one of the best home remedies for acid reflux. When it is crushed, it produces a starchy substance known as mucilage. This substance can coat and protect the mucous walls of your esophagus, and this is exactly what you need when you feel like your insides are burning.
For more than a century, ginger has been used to treat stomach ailments in the Far East countries. Try adding some ginger in your tea and you will be surprised that your acid reflux problems are now a thing of the past.
Watermelons contain lots of water, which helps dilute the escaped acids in your food pipe. Its alkaline ingredients helps neutralize stomach acids as well. Have at least six bite sized chunks after every meal.
11. Yellow Mustard
Yellow mustard is another effective home remedy for acid reflux as it helps neutralize stomach acid. The vinegar content in this food is a weak acid that lowers the pH of stomach acid.
When acid reflux strikes, eat one teaspoon of plain yellow mustard for instant relief.
Note: Mustard may make symptoms of acid reflux worse for some people.
12. Vegetable Juice
Even if you hate eating vegetables, it’s time that you start adding more greens into your diet in order to cure your acid reflux problem. Take some carrots, kale, cucumbers and beets, and drain some vegetable juice from them.
13. Slippery Elm
A number of studies have been done on slippery elm, and it is now becoming apparent that adding at least a tablespoon of this herb into a glass of water can help neutralize the effects of acid influx. Not only does this mixture neutralize acid, it also coats your stomach with a protective layer, protecting it from the dangerous effects of excess acid.
Almonds contain alkaline compounds, which can help neutralize the excess acid in your stomach. Usually it is recommended to have 3-4 almonds after every meal.
- Over-consuming almonds may trigger the symptoms of acid reflux instead of easing them.
15. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds can help you relieve the symptoms of acid reflux as they stimulate digestion and reduce digestive problems like gas and acidity.
- Boil one teaspoon of cumin seeds in a cup of water.
- Let it steep for five minutes and then strain it.
- Drink this tea in the morning and after meals for a few days or until you notice improvement.
- You can also add cumin seeds to foods while cooking.
Lifestyle Changes to Get Rid of Acid Reflux
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. In order to prevent acid reflux, start eating smaller portions, and more frequently throughout the day.
Lose excess weight. Obesity is one of the main causes of acid reflux. The extra weight puts pressure on your esophagus, causing stomach acid to rise back up. Diet and exercise may eliminate symptoms without requiring further treatment.
Change your diet. Consider changing what you have been eating and start an anti-reflux diet instead. All sugary and processed foods catalyze acid reflux, and they create an imbalance in the stomach and intestinal tract. Starting today, go fresh and organic: start taking large quantities of fresh vegetables and organic fruits instead. Try cutting back on the following foods to experience acid reflux less often:
- Spicy food
- Garlic and onion
- Fried or greasy foods
- Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits
- Mint and peppermint
Reduce salt intake. Research has shown that people who often add salt to what they eat are at a very high risk of developing and experiencing acid reflux problems. Reducing the quantity of salt you have been taking on a daily basis is a simple solution to the problem.
- You may also substitute salt with vinegars and spices, and replace cheap salt with high-quality sea salt.
Don’t lie down immediately or do too much bending after meals. You should stand upright instead because no matter how terrible you feel, the force of gravity is so powerful that if you stand for some time, regurgitated acid will get pushed back to your stomach.
- If you want to sleep, sleep on your left side. This is because the fluids in the stomach will flow down just along the greater curvature far away from the LES.
Raise the head of your bed 4 or 5 inches higher than the foot. Simple gravity is a contributor to GERD, especially if you are overweight or have a hiatal hernia or other abnormality of the passage from the esophagus to the stomach. If your head is higher than your feet, acid can’t back up.
Wear loose fitting clothes. Tight waistbands compress the internal organs and may block digestion. Wear pants and skirts with elastic waistbands. If you wear form-fitting clothes and heavy fabrics at the office, change into sweats or other comfortable clothing as soon as you get home.
Stop smoking. If you don’t want to deal with acid reflux, and hoping to find a permanent cure for the condition, then it’s high time you consider quitting smoking.
Research has actually shown that smoking tends to relax the LES, and a relaxed LES means acid has more room to splash up your esophagus, causing that burning sensation in your chest.
- Even if you can’t quit, it’s important to cut back as much as you can.
Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Alcohol and caffeine loosen the sphincter that controls the passage of the esophagus into the stomach, allowing acid to flow backward. Avoiding them, especially before bedtime, can ease the symptoms of GERD.
How to Treat Chronic Acid Reflux
Consult your doctor if lifestyle changes and home remedies do not successfully treat acid reflux. In some cases, home remedies and lifestyle changes won’t be sufficient. If your symptoms are painful or last more than 2 weeks, consult your doctor.
Undergo testing to determine causes and rule out other conditions. Ulcers, cancer, and other conditions can cause acid reflux to occur. Tell your doctor you’d like to find out if an underlying condition is causing your symptoms.
Explore the possibility of surgical repair. Certain problems, such as hiatal hernias, can be corrected through surgery. If you have chronic acid reflux, you may want to consider this option.
- Untreated acid reflux can lead to tissue damage that may result, in some cases, in bleeding ulcers or esophageal cancer.
- Untreated acid reflux aggravates high blood pressure and may contribute to allergy and asthma attacks.
- The regurgitation of stomach acid and undigested food during sleep may cause aspiration pneumonia and interfere with breathing.
- See your doctor if you need to take medications for more than 2 weeks.
- Understand that acid reflux is common during pregnancy, because of high hormone levels and excess pressure on the digestive system. Your obstetrician can recommend safe treatments.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking medications for heart disease, such as calcium channel blockers or sedatives, because these can cause or worsen GERD symptoms.