There are few things more pleasurable than sitting down to a delicious meal, but for many people in Huntsville and Madison, the dining experience isn’t as enjoyable. Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the chest that affects an estimated 60 million people in Alabama and across the U.S.
What is Acid Reflux?
About one in five people who live in Hunstville or Madison experience what doctors term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Because that’s a real mouthful, it’s usually just referred to as acid reflux or heartburn. The condition is the result of stomach acid flowing into the esophagus, usually shortly after eating. It causes a range of symptoms including a burning in the chest, sour or bitter taste in the mouth, swallowing difficulty, belching, regurgitation, nausea and bloating. Symptoms are more pronounced when lying down.
Your Huntsville ENT doctor recommends the following precautions in order to reduce the likelihood of heartburn.
Eat smaller portions
Cutting back on the amount of food you eat helps reduce the chances of acid reflux occurring. Could your willpower use some work? Dish up less on your plate and chew your food slowly. This will give you time to fill up and should help you resist seconds.
Avoid fatty, greasy and spicy foods
Certain foods can trigger heartburn—especially those that are fatty, greasy or spicy. A partial list of notorious acid reflux triggers includes potato chips, french fries, cheese, whole milk, butter, chile peppers, citrus fruits, pineapple, tomatoes, chocolate, alcohol and coffee or tea.
Substitute healthier foods
While the above foods often make symptoms worse, others can prevent or reduce the likelihood of acid reflux. Vegetables, oatmeal, ginger, non-citrus fruits, lean meats and seafood, egg whites and healthy fats such as avocados and nuts can all be enjoyed without worry. Try chewing gum that contains bicarbonate to help reduce the amount of acid in your esophagus.
Don’t eat too soon to bedtime
Because heartburn symptoms often flare up when you’re lying down, avoid eating too closely to bedtime. Try to give yourself at least three hours between your last bite and your first zzz.
Give your food time to digest
It may be tempting to go for a brisk walk after scarfing down a cheeseburger, but waiting at least half an hour after eating will help reduce the odds of experiencing acid reflux.
Incorporating these strategies into your daily routine should help cut down on the occurrence of heartburn. If it remains a problem, its a good idea to contact a Huntsville ENT doctor—especially if acid reflux is accompanied by painful or difficult swallowing, persistent sore throat or unexplained weight loss.