October 29, 2020 by Adrienne Sylver
Beating Acid Reflux Without Meds (Video)
Over-the-counter or prescribed pills to treat acid reflux, also known as GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), are widely used. But studies have shown that the prolonged use of these meds can increase the risk of developing other health problems.
Physicians are increasingly guiding patients with acid reflux in another direction which can alleviate the production of excessive stomach acid without meds – and improve overall health as well. Lifestyle changes that include weight management and modifications to diets can reduce or eliminate GERD symptoms.
Video by George Carvalho and Alcyene C. de Almeida Rodrigues
GERD can be a chronic condition where stomach contents come back up into the esophagus, resulting in symptoms such as heartburn and the taste of acid in the back of the mouth. Risk factors include obesity, pregnancy, smoking, hiatus hernia, and taking certain medicines.
“It’s a common complaint,” says Christopher da Fonseca, M.D., a family medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care at Palmetto Bay. “My job is to fully access the reason why they’re getting the dyspepsia (non-ulcer indigestion caused by acid reflux) or heartburn. I advocate what’s called lifestyle changes.”
Common Foods That Can Cause GERD
Creating a “food journal” and chronicling what you’re eating everyday is a good idea to determine what foods are triggering the acid reflux or gastritis, which refers to the inflammation or irritation of the stomach lining and can result in acid reflux among other symptoms, says Dr. da Fonseca.
Some foods that can cause acid reflux are very common in the American diet, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, spicy foods and excessive amounts of caffeine or excessive alcohol, he says.
Weight and Other Factors
Other measures you can take to reduce acid reflux that do not require medications include losing weight, quitting smoking, and staying upright for at least two hours after a meal.
“Basically, gravity is working against you,” says Dr. da Fonseca. “By staying upright for about two hours, you’re letting the acid go through the natural process. When you’re laying down, it has a tendency to rise up your esophagus.”
Several studies have indicated that long-term use of meds to treat GERD can increase the risks of other problems related to bone and kidney health. One reason may be that the drugs interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium and other vital nutrients or minerals.
However, untreated acid reflux over time can cause inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), which increases the risk of pre-cancerous cells in the esophagus. The bottom line: It’s best to adopt lifestyle changes to avoid having to take pills with uncertain, long-term side effects.
“Sometimes patients want me to prescribe a pill,” says Dr. da Fonseca. “I tell them there are things you can do that don’t require medication and let’s focus on the things you can change over the next three months.”
Watch the video now as Dr. da Fonseca talks more about lifestyle modifications that can help prevent or relieve acid reflux.