Higher consumption of citrus fruits, sodas and juices, coupled with changes in dining hours during the summer months can induce acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the oesophagus, which moves food down from the mouth. The stomach contains a strong acid that helps break down food and protect against pathogens. The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to protect it from the powerful acid, but the oesophagus is not protected. A ring of muscle normally acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up into the oesophagus. When this valve fails, and stomach contents are regurgitated into the oesophagus, the symptoms of acid reflux are felt, such as heartburn.
Causes of Acid Reflux
One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia. 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
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The main symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. Heartburn is a discomfort – happening in the oesophagus and felt behind the breastbone area – that takes the form of a burning sensation; it generally gets worse when the person lies down or bends over. It can last for several hours and also tends to worsen after eating food.
If heartburn occurs regularly – two or more times a week – it is termed gastroesophageal reflux disease. It can also have other symptoms, including:
- Dry, persistent cough
- Throat problems
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Chest or upper abdominal pain
- Dental erosion
- Bad breath
Foods that may help reduce your symptoms
There are specific foods you can incorporate into your diet to manage symptoms of acid reflux.
- Green leafy vegetables
- Non-citrus fruits
- Egg whites
- Healthy fats (walnuts, olive oil, sesame oil etc)
Lifestyle changes to treat acid reflux
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
- Quit smoking
- Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 inches to 6 inches
- Don’t eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down
- Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts
- If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes
Common trigger foods for people with reflux
Certain foods tend to cause problems for many people with the disease. To control your symptoms, you could start by eliminating the following foods from your diet.
- High-fat foods like:
- french fries and onion rings
- full-fat dairy products such as butter, whole milk, regular cheese, and sour cream
- high-fat desserts or snacks such as ice cream and potato chips
- cream sauces, gravies, and creamy salad dressings
- Citrus fruits like:
- Garlic, onions, and spicy foods
Treatment of Acid Reflux
It’s time to see your doctor if you have acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week or if medications don’t bring lasting relief. Working with your doctor can also help you develop a diet to control or lessen your symptoms.
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital’s Centre for Diabetes & Obesity has a host of facilities to deal with acid reflux and its associated problems.