Acid reflux is usually seen in adults, however, it is also common in babies. Medications such as acid suppression drugs and antacids help alleviate symptoms, however, overuse can result in rebound acid reflux.
These medications may also lead to side effects such as muscle pain, too much calcium in the blood, kidney disorders, and cardiac abnormalities. It is for this reason that natural home remedies may be safer and more effective in treating this upper digestive disorder. Here are four natural home remedies to help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux disease:
Elevate The Head Of The Bed
Placing blocks or risers under the head of the bed can dramatically help decrease nighttime acid reflux symptoms. This is because lying flat promotes the migration of stomach acid into the esophagus and throat. When the head of the bed is elevated, gravity helps keep gastric acid from traveling upwards.
In addition to raising the head of the bed, sleeping on your left side will also help diminish the flow of stomach acid up into the throat. Sleeping on your right side may promote the release and migration of stomach acid, worsening the symptoms of heartburn, sore throat, and coughing.
Nighttime acid reflux may also raise the risk for pulmonary aspiration of stomach acid. When stomach acid gets into the lungs, bacterial infections and pneumonia may develop.
If you have severe acid reflux disease and develop extreme coughing, mucus production, chills, fever, body aches, or chest pain, see your doctor right away. These symptoms indicate the presence of a respiratory infection that may require antibiotic treatment.
Check Your Medications
Certain medications can lead to extreme acid reflux and resultant heartburn. Beta blockers are used to treat high blood pressure, migraine headaches, cardiac abnormalities, and anxiety. They are also used to help prevent heart attack and stroke, and to reduce the tremors and fast heart rate often associated with hyperthyroidism.
Although beta blockers are highly effective in treating these disorders, they can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscle which may allow the release of stomach acid into the upper digestive tract. People who take beta blockers should never abruptly stop taking them.
Beta blockers need to weaned gradually, and failure to do so may result in a dangerous cardiac episode or spike in blood pressure. Other medications that weaken the lower esophageal sphincter include anti-anxiety drugs, bronchodilators, asthma medications, antidepressants, and estrogen supplements.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Obesity is one of the most common causes of acid reflux. Excess adipose tissue, especially when located in the abdomen or mid-section, places pressure on the stomach. This can lead to the the backup of acid into the esophagus. Even a small reduction in weight can result in an improvement in acid reflux and heartburn.
Obesity can also heighten the risk for sleep apnea, which may also be another risk factor for acid reflux. Overweight individuals may find some relief from nighttime acid reflux if they sleep on their left sides as opposed to sleeping on their backs.
Lying flat may cause abdominal fat to press against the stomach and diaphragm, which not only leads to heartburn and reflux, but may also raise the risk for an abnormal breathing pattern and aspiration of gastric juices into the respiratory system.
Excess weight may also trigger systemic inflammation, another possible risk factor in the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you are unable to lose weight on your own, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about interventions that will help you reach your weight loss goals.
Eliminate Trigger Foods
Certain foods are notorious for intensifying the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. While everyone has different tolerances for food, those with acid reflux disease are usually more sensitive to citrus fruit, chocolate, peppermint, onions, and coffee.
Other trigger foods include tomatoes, garlic, peppers, bananas, and fatty foods. Alcoholic beverages are also known to cause acid reflux episodes, as are certain herbal teas and dairy products. Many people believe that drinking milk helps “coat the stomach,” thereby eliminating the symptoms of dyspepsia or heartburn. While milk may temporarily provide some relief from reflux and heartburn, it may later result in an increase in stomach acid production. Chewing gum can help relieve reflux symptoms caused by eating trigger foods, however, peppermint and spearmint gum should be avoided, as these can increase heartburn.
It is important to treat acid reflux disease because severe or long-standing reflux may lead to unhealthy changes in the esophageal tissue over time.
While natural or home remedies are often very effective in treating acid reflux disease, severe cases may only respond to acid suppression medications.
These medications will prevent acid reflux, while helping to heal erosive esophageal caused by severe disease. To determine if erosions are present, a diagnostic test known as endoscopy may be recommended so that an effective treatment plan can be implemented. The sooner gastroesophageal reflux disease is recognized and addressed, the less likely you are to develop permanent esophageal damage.