- Change in lifestyle
- Medical approach
Over 80% of all patients that have acid reflux experience a recurrent form of this condition that they can control with certain medications. This form is recurrent, but is rarely progressive. This makes the diagnosis of the remaining 20% of patients a bit complex and extremely important, since these people can develop even severe complications like Barrett esophagus or strictures. For those prone to such complications, doctors may recommend an early-stage surgery that will help them prevent and avoid the serious consequences of acid reflux.
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How to Treat Acid Reflux
There are a few answers to the question many people ask: ‘how to cure acid reflux?’.
Change in Lifestyle
There are several lifestyle modifications one could opt to if they want to treat acid reflux. Many people choose to take the treatment for acid reflux without being properly or formally diagnosed by the most common ways of diagnosing acid reflux. Even though this may result as positive at the beginning, almost no one has completely recovered with the medicine, since medications are not a cure for acid reflux.
A proper acid reflux treatment includes a change in lifestyle, more specifically a diet. Furthermore, it requires certain medications or in some cases, surgery. However, we will discuss the medical approaches later on.
When it comes to an acid reflux diet, there are people that can only use this type of treatment and benefit from it positively. In most cases, the acid reflux symptoms occur in 2 hours after having a meal, especially if the meal is large. The more a person eats, the harsher will the symptoms be.
Many people decide to lay down when they start experiencing heartburn or some of the other acid reflux symptoms. This is wrong since when people lie down, the acid is less likely to clear due to the gravity.
Additionally, people may experience harsh acid reflux symptoms late at night. This is why the diet acid reflux patients should follow is to avoid eating late at night and eating large meals. Instead, eating earlier and in small quantities can reduce or completely eliminate the acid reflux symptoms.
Some people find coffee to be a cause of acid reflux symptoms too, so try to avoid this beverage. Additionally, it is known that chewing sugar free chewing gum after a meal can help with the symptoms.
So, which foods are good for you to eat and which foods should you avoid?
When you are experiencing acid reflux after eating meals, try to avoid:
- Spicy meals
- Fizzy drinks
- Citrus and tomatoes
- Foods rich in fat
Instead of these ingredients, you can try consuming:
- Fresh fruit
- Still water
- Certain herbal teas (try to find some weaker ones since a strong tea can cause acidity in the stomach)
- Pretzels, bread and rice cakes
- Backed potatoes
- Broccoli, carrots, green beans and peas
- Foods that are low in fat
- Low fat yogurt
- Non-alcoholic drinks
Aside from a special diet, there are many natural remedies for acid reflux symptoms you can try out.
Medical Approach – Acid reflux medications
A quarter of all acid reflux patients can take a recommended dosage of a certain medicine and treat this condition. Afterwards, the acid reflux may or may not return. However, in many cases, these cases do not respond to solely medications or a diet. In these cases, a combination of the two is crucial in order to fight off the symptoms and get rid of the acid in the esophagus.
Medications are used to relieve the symptoms that are caused by acid reflux or prevent the causes of the acid reflux in the first place. Right now, there are many highly effective medications that do not result in side effects at all.
We can separate acid reflux medications into the following categories:
Drugs used to neutralize acids:
- Simple antacids
The simple antacids re used when people have a mild heartburn or chest pain. By consuming this medicine, a patient can immediately neutralize the acid in the stomach. However, even if this medication acts fast, it also wears off after a short period of time. In cases where the patient is having a more severe attack, they may need more than one of these medications after a couple of minutes. The most common types of simple antacids are: magnesium or calcium hydroxide, triscilicate or carbonate, aluminum hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate. There are certain combinations of these medications for longer and better effects. The most widely known such brands are Tums Maalox, Mucogel and Rennies. They are all based on these ingredients.
- Enhanced antacids, with alginates
If a person is suffering from an acid reflux attack, they may add some extra benefits by choosing the enhanced antacids instead of the simple ones. The alginates in these antacids create a barrier layer that remains on top of all contents in the stomach. As we all know, in the case of acid reflux, the content back up into the esophagus or the throat. However, the alginate here comes into contact with the lining in the esophagus first, sticks to it and protects it from the acids that follow right afterwards.
The benefits from these medications are not long lasting either. The duration is approximately half an hour. Such medications include Gastrocote and Gaviscon and can be found in both tablet and liquid form.
Drugs used to prevent the production of acids
- Proton pump inhibitors
- H2 receptor antagonists
Aside from these drugs, there are more powerful options that can result in longer relief. Such medications include low doses of H2RA or H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors. They can both be used in combinations with alginates and are even mixed in some over-the-counter medications.
There are a small number of acid reflux patients who do not respond well or do not respond at all to the medications. In addition, there are those who avoid taking medications long term since they are harmful for the body. For these people, there is another medical solution, which is an anti-reflux surgery. However, doctors recommend that people avoid this option and leave it for last since there are many non-intrusive treatments that have proven to be beneficial for acid reflux patients.
The treatment of acid reflux is greatly improved in the last 20 years. Right now, the majority of acid reflux or GERD patients are living normal lives, free of acid reflux symptoms.