All of us are leading very busy lives due to the long working hours and personal responsibilities. In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to overlook minor issues that could lead to a larger one. Acid Reflux is one such health issue that is often neglected, or people tend to self-medicate to reduce the discomfort caused by the disorder. Acid reflux happens when the acid travels back from the stomach to the esophagus causing a burning sensation in the throat, chest, and stomach. It is a very common problem, fortunately, one that can be easily prevented with the help of a few changes in eating and drinking habits.
● Chest pain
● Difficulty swallowing
● Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
● Indigestion (a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat)
● The sensation of a lump in the throat
● Spitting up or vomiting frequently, after a meal
● Acidic or unpleasant breath caused by stomach acid rising into the back of the throat
It is extremely crucial to observe these symptoms at an early stage and seek medical help to avoid acid reflux from developing into serious conditions like:
● Narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture): It damages the lower esophagus from stomach acid that causes scar tissue to form. Scar tissue obstructs the food pathway, causing swallowing issues.
● A sore in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer): Stomach acid can wear away tissues in the esophagus, causing an open sore to form.
● Precancerous changes to the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus): Acid damage can lead to abnormalities in the tissue that lines the lower esophagus. These modifications have been linked to a higher risk of esophageal cancer.
● Have small and frequent meals: Eat five small meals instead of eating three large meals in a day. This prevents the stomach from extending and forcing food and acid upward.
● Reduce the consumption of junk food: Refrain from eating any kind of junk food such as chocolates, wafers, peppermint, spicy food, etc. Apart from these, one should also avoid citrus fruits, tomato products, fried, fatty and spicy food, garlic and onions.
● Early dinner: Try to consume dinner 2 to 3 hours before going to bed because when you lie down gravity pulls whatever’s in the stomach towards the esophagus.
Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity is one of the reasons for causing acid reflux because it puts extra pressure on the stomach, which pushes food and acid up towards the esophagus.
● Practice yoga: Yoga helps in reducing stress as it is one of the most common causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Yoga or any other exercise can help in reducing the risk of acid reflux.
Maintaining good gut health is extremely important for overall well-being. Try to include foods like ginger, cold milk, and certain alkaline foods like banana, melon, and cucumbers to seek instant relief from acid reflux. In some circumstances, acid reflux can induce chest pain, which is unpleasant and might interfere with daily activities. It is best to avoid medication and try to prevent acid reflux by including these steps.
Dr.Jagan Mohan Reddy, Surgical Gastroenterologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Kondapur, Hyderabad