Acid reflux is a chronic health condition caused due to the abnormal reflux of the stomach acid in the esophagus. It is also referred to as gastric acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux results from the disorder in the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a barrier between the esophagus and stomach. In a normal healthy individual, this sphincter prevents regurgitation of acid and/or food particles from stomach to esophagus, whereas this is not so in the case of an acid reflux patient.
The frequent reflux of stomach acid damages the mucous lining of esophagus, leading to various symptoms. The commonly manifested signs of acid reflux are problem in swallowing (dysphagia), regurgitation, heartburn, nausea and at times, chest pain. These symptoms are more frequent after a heavy meal, bending and lying down on the back. Majority of the patients experience severe acid reflux symptoms at night. Acid reflux is diagnosed based on the symptoms and laboratory tests such as endoscopy and chest X-ray.
Home Treatment for Acid Reflux
Acid reflux should be treated immediately, as a long-term untreated condition can lead to wearing of the protective esophageal lining, known as erosive esophagus. Though there are therapeutic medications for acid reflux, many patients have reported serious side effects of commonly administered medications, especially if taken for a prolonged duration. Another issue with prescribed medications is the recurrence of the acid reflux symptoms, as soon as one stops the treatment. A healthy and effective method to manage acid reflux is by making lifestyle changes and practicing home treatments.
Healthy eating habit is an effective way to prevent reflux of stomach acids. A patient with acid reflux should consume several smaller meals, rather than having a large meal at a time. He/she should not skip meals for a long period, so as to avoid intense hunger, which will ultimately lead to consumption of large meals. He/she should have dinner at least one hour before going to sleep. There is a specific GERD diet which can help to relieve the symptoms. The foods and drinks that worsen the acid reflux symptoms such as chocolate, mint, tomatoes, spicy foods, coffee, tea, etc. should be avoided for the effective treatment.
Chewing gum in between the meals helps in secreting saliva, which is alkaline in nature. This excess saliva when swallowed neutralizes the stomach acid present in the esophagus. Chewing gums with mint flavor are not recommended as they are known to exacerbate acid reflux. Drinking adequate amount of water dilutes the acid and maintains normal pH, thus reducing the burning sensation caused by strong stomach acids.
An effective natural remedy to treat acid reflux is to drink apple cider vinegar by mixing with water. A solution prepared by adding one teaspoon of good quality apple cider vinegar in ½ a glass of drinking water can be taken while consuming dinner. Fennel seed is also used for treating gastrointestinal and stomach spasms. It also helps in reducing indigestion problems. Chewing half a teaspoon of fennel seeds after meals can help to relieve acid reflux. Another home treatment is to use ginger roots that significantly absorbs stomach acid. Ginger root capsules are available commercially as nutritional supplements. It is to be noted that one should take medical supervision before opting for the natural remedies for acid reflux.
Sleeping on the right side of stomach reduces acid reflux to esophagus. An individual having acid reflux is always advisable to sleep with the head in a elevated position. This can be achieved by using extra pillows or raising the head side of the bed. Doing so prevents backing up of acid during sleep. Speaking about the lifestyle changes, one should quit smoking, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, manage stress, reduce soda intake, maintain a healthy body weight and avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. In case, if you don't feel a relief from the symptoms of acid reflux following these home treatments, it is recommended to consult a qualified physician.