June 8, 2019
Living in the United States, large meal portions are common. Many eateries offer an opportunity to supersize your order, or the serving is already large enough to feed two (or three!) people. And while it may be fun to indulge every now and then, it is often followed by a list of feelings that are not necessarily pleasant. One of them is acid reflux.
But what is acid reflux and what can you do to manage or prevent it?
What is Acid Reflux?
The medical term for acid reflux is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It occurs when the fluids in your stomach move back up into the esophagus. Generally speaking, this is not supposed to happen. When the food you eat goes down the esophagus into the stomach, there’s a valve (called a sphincter) in your stomach opening, that closes once you’re finished eating. However, there are certain circumstances that can cause this sphincter to open back up.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
There are several risk factors that can cause the stomach sphincter to open back up. These include:
- Eating large meals
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Eating deep fried or spicy foods
- Being pregnant
- Lying down soon after eating
- Taking aspirin
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
When contents from the stomach return to the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest and throat. This is commonly known as heartburn. It can be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Regurgitation of food
- Bitter acid backing up into your mouth
- Sore throat
How to Prevent Acid Reflux
Preventing acid reflux requires lifestyle changes such as:
- Eat smaller meals. You don’t need to go hungry. If you feel that your regular meals aren’t enough, introduce snacks in between.
- Eat at least three hours before going to bed. Give your body enough time to digest meals. If it’s impossible for you to arrange your schedule this way, try sleeping in a reclined position.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Having excess fat around your midsection puts pressure on your stomach, which can result in a hiatal hernia and acid reflux.
- Quit smoking. In addition to lung, liver, and throat cancers, heart disease, cataracts, risk of stroke, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and erectile dysfunction, smoking can cause acid reflux.
- Talk to your doctor about your current medications. Most prescription pills have a myriad of side effects. Ask you doctor if the meds you’re taking may be causing your acid reflux, and if there are any available alternatives.
How to Treat Acid Reflux
There are many over-the-counter medications (antacids) designed to alleviate acid reflux. If they don’t provide relief, or if they cause constipation, your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives that can strengthen the stomach valve or decrease the amount of acid in your stomach.
If You Have Acid Reflux, Let Us Help You.
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.