Manage Acid Reflux in 6 Steps

December 3, 2020 3:39 pm Published by

Occasional acid reflux—also known as heartburn—is common and not usually cause for concern. If acid reflux occurs frequently, however, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.

Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) keeps stomach acid from flowing backward into the esophagus. If the LES weakens, acid can get through. That can cause a burning feeling in your chest that can last up to two hours, especially after eating or during sleep.

Acid reflux that happens at least twice weekly may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). Ignoring GERD can lead to serious consequences for your health. These may include physical changes to the esophagus that can make it difficult to swallow or set the stage for cancer.

Curing acid reflux isn’t always possible, but there’s a lot you can do to manage it. You can:

1. Change habits that can make acid reflux symptoms worse.

One of the most important lifestyle changes you can make is to stop smoking, if you are in the habit of doing so. Smoking can hinder your production of saliva, which plays a role in reducing heartburn. Tobacco may also boost production of stomach acid and weaken the LES, according to the ACG.

Smoking isn’t the only harmful habit you can change. Eating too close to bedtime can trigger acid reflux, so avoid meals and snacks within at least two hours of sleep.

2. Raise the head of your bed.

Use wooden blocks or other means to move the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches higher than it is when flat, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends. That small amount of elevation during sleep may reduce acid reflux.

3. Lose weight.

If you’re overweight, shedding excess pounds may help improve symptoms.

Learn more: Magnolia Regional Health Center Weight Loss Seminar

4. Avoid foods and beverages that trigger symptoms.

Cut back on or eliminate spicy or fatty foods, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, peppermint, tomatoes and tomato products, and citrus fruits.

5. Try over-the-counter medications.

Non-prescription antacids may be all you need to treat occasional acid reflux, but they are unlikely to be enough to provide long-term relief from GERD.

6. Consider prescription medications or surgery.

If lifestyle changes and over-the-counter drugs don’t provide enough relief from symptoms, your primary care provider (PCP) may recommend a prescription medication, such as an H2 blocker or proton pump inhibitor. If your issues continue, your PCP may refer you to a specialist for additional treatment options, which may include surgical procedures to strengthen the LES.

Ready to manage acid reflux? Call (662) 664-5181 or visit to find a primary care provider who can help.


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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center


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