Acid Reflux Home Treatment and Remedies
Acid reflux happens when the muscular valve between the stomach and the esophagus relaxes and allows stomach acid and other contents to flow back into the esophagus and into your throat.
If working normally, food and liquid should only flow one way – into the stomach. The stomach is lined to keep this acid from doing any harm but if the stomach contents get into the esophagus it can cause quite a bit of pain and eventually damage tissues in the esophagus and throat.
Home Treatments For Acid Reflux
There are several medicines which can cause acid reflux or make it worse. If you’ve just started a new prescription or started taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effect or contra-indication and they may change your medication or give you advice on mitigating this symptom.
There are many things you can do to help relieve and prevent acid reflux. Some of these are dietary changes and changes in your life style. For instance, smoking will cause acid reflux and make it worse. The decision to stop smoking is one thing that can greatly alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
Alcohol can also cause acid reflux. If you drink alcohol you can often minimize the symptoms of acid reflux if you make sure that you don’t drink several hours before going to bed.
Being overweight can also add to the symptoms of acid reflux. Even losing just a few pounds at a time can really make a difference in the severity of this disease. Eating four to six small meals a day instead of three large ones can also make a difference, and don’t eat anything a couple hours before you go to bed. Often when you lay down, acid reflux will get worse. This is typically aggravated by a full stomach. The smaller meals and not eating before you go to bed will allow your stomach to digest the food before you lay down so there isn’t enough in it to cause acid reflux.
You might also want to try raising just the head of your bed from six to eight inches. There are bed raisers that you can buy or you can simply use a couple of wood blocks. This works better than adding pillows to the bed. Or there are specially made wedge pillows that will also help. These pillows stay in place and will provide a similar effect to raising the head of your bed.
Stress or eating fast can cause acid reflux. It is important to take your time when you eat, to chew your food well and to relax and enjoy the food. Try to avoid things that would cause stress like watching the news when you eat. Since stress will increase stomach acid production, it is important to keep meal time stress-free.
You should also try to avoid heavy lifting or bending over right after you eat. Let your stomach digest its contents before you do these activities or you can force food and liquid through the esophageal sphincter or valve.
Foods to Avoid
One of the best ways to treat acid reflux at home is avoidance. Stay away from fried and fatty foods especially later in the day. But if you suffer from acid reflux at any time it is best to avoid the foods that can aggravate this condition. Besides fried and fatty food, heavily seasoned or spicy foods can cause problems as can anything that is acidic. This would include citrus fruits like oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and lemons. Tomatoes and many tomato sauces are also highly acidic.
Other foods you should avoid include coffee and caffeinated drinks, carbonated drinks, chocolate and even peppermint and spearmint teas. These mint teas can actually relax the muscles controlling the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Onions and garlic should also be avoided.
Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux Symptoms
Besides changing how you eat and sleep, there are natural remedies that can help relieve acid reflux symptoms. These include:
- Warm towels, a heating pad or even hot water bottle – If your stomach hurts or cramps as a symptom of acid reflux, you can use heated towels or anything warm, laid across your stomach for up to ten minutes at a time. This can help relieve the pain and cramping associated with acid reflux. Pain medications, especially NSAIDs can only aggravate acid reflux.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – whether you take it in pill form (health food store) or drink two tablespoons in water three times a day, this is natural remedy works for many people. It can also be taken right after a heavy meal to relive discomfort and you can add more apple cider vinegar to less water if the symptoms are really bad. For a recipe on making your own apple cider vinegar, see here.
- A couple of teaspoons of baking soda added to water is also a natural remedy for acid reflux.
- Alone or taken at the same time as the apple cider vinegar or baking soda, you can add acidophilus bifidus capsules or magnesium capsules.
- Drinking several swallows of pickle juice is another natural way to combat acid reflux.
- Gum Chewing – this simple activity will actually increase saliva production which will help neutralize the acid, soothe the esophagus and the act of swallowing will push the acid back into the stomach.