Heartburn or acid reflux, also known as GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) occurs when the muscles of the lower esophagus do not function as desired. Due to this disorder, food from the stomach along with the stomach acids makes way up to the esophagus (food pipe) and causes a burning sensation around the chest, up till the throat.
It is common for people to complain of heartburn after eating heavy meals with a larger portion of fatty food items but repeated incidences of acid reflux can cause permanent and unrepairable damage to the esophagus. Thus, occasional incidences of heartburn may not be reported to the doctor but if you often experience discomfort after eating food, you must not take it lightly.
Steps to avoid heartburn
Certain medications and food items lead to recurring incidences of heartburn. Mild GERD symptoms can be controlled and the discomfort can be completely eliminated by adopting a healthier lifestyle and incorporating the following habits in your everyday routine:
- Avoid going to bed right after eating a meal or having a carbonated beverage. Doctors always advise finishing all meals at least 2-3 hours before lying down or going to bed. This prevents the stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus.
- You must always chew well and eat slowly.
- Never overeat and prefer to have 4 to 5 smaller but frequent meals instead of consuming 3 bigger ones. This helps to promote digestion and reduces the likelihood of heartburn.
- Avoid heartburn triggers (foods and drinks that can set-off acid reflux) such as onions, peppermint, chocolates, beverages with caffeine, tomatoes, fried foods, carbonated beverages, high-fat and spicy foods, citrus juices and fruits, etc
- Reduce the excessive body weight especially around the midsection as that puts excessive pressure on the stomach and forces food up from the stomach to the esophagus. Shedding the extra fat will definitely help you feel better and help reduce the severity of symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol and give-up on smoking as the nicotine in cigarettes can damage the muscle that controls the opening between the stomach and the esophagus. This can cause repeated incidences of acid reflux that can damage the esophagus. Smoking also leads to excessive production of stomach acids more than what is usually required for digestion and this can increase the probability of acid reflux.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to feel comfortable and ease-off the pressure on the stomach. This will allow the food to get digested easily and move down from the stomach.
- If you experience a burning sensation while lying down, keep your head and chest raised higher than your feet as that will help the stomach acids remain in the stomach and not move up.
- If your heartburn tends to get worse after exercise, ensure to keep a minimum of a 2-hour gap between your meals and exercise. Ensure to drink plenty of water before and during exercise.
- As heartburn triggers differ from person to person, you must maintain a journal to jot down the heartburn hints and specific things that you may be eating or doing that lead to acid reflux incidences. The journal will not only help you identify the triggers but also avoid them in the future.
Treatment for Acid Reflux
If even after taking care of all the precautions mentioned above, you still experience heartburn a few times or every week, you must seek medical advice from a qualified and trained gastroenterologist.
Dr. Srikanth Gadiyaram at Sahasra Hospitals is a highly qualified and distinguished surgical gastroenterologist in Bangalore. Once you book an appointment for discomfort due to GERD with Dr. Srikanth, he requests for a detailed medical history and description of symptoms. If the symptoms signal towards a possibility of acid reflux, he will suggest a few diagnostic tests to confirm GERD – Upper GI Endoscopy, 24 Hour PH Monitoring, and Esopha manometry.
Dr. Srikanth always begins with drug therapy for all patients who are diagnosed with GERD and tries to offer comfort from oral medications alone. If the patient shows an inadequate response to medical therapy or if there are chances of other complications that may occur due to GERD, Dr. Srikanth suggests undergoing the Anti-Reflux surgery which is also known as “Nissen’s Fundoplication”. In this process, he reinforces the valve between the stomach and the esophagus that helps offer relief from symptoms.
Dr. Srikanth Gadiyaram is the best gastroenterologist in Bangalore and aims to achieve 100% patients satisfaction by offering world-class medical care and cure to one and all. If you have any early signs of heartburn or have already been diagnosed with GERD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Srikanth Gadiyaram for the best treatment at affordable costs. Book a consultation now!