Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) develops when the stomach sphincter spontaneously opens and acidic contents are thrown back into the esophagus, damaging the lining of the esophagus. One of the most effective preventive measures for GERD is changing the tilt of the bed. The position of the body can be adjusted using a lifting mechanism, therapy cushions or both at the same time. By using the tips below, you can significantly ease the pain caused by reflux disease.
Part 1 of 4: Changing the tilt of the bed
Step 1. Select a material
The choice of method and material should be balanced. It is best to use a therapy wedge pillow or bed lifters (of any material). These means will provide sufficient height for a long time and at the same level. You can use one of three main ways:
- The easiest way is to place a cement block, a few bricks or books under the legs of the bed near the head.
- If the previous method does not work, you can purchase a plastic or wooden bed lift that supports the back or legs. It is also possible to purchase “bed wedges” that are installed between the mattress and the mattress spring or over the mattress under the bedding.
- Therapy wedge pillows can be used instead of raising the bed. Their name speaks for itself - a pillow in the shape of an elastic sharp wedge. But keep in mind that for some people, such pillows cause neck pain.
Step 2. Set the correct angle of inclination of the bed
The lift angle must be carefully measured. Most research states that the headboard should be at least 15-20 cm high. Medical sources confirm that this angle does prevent acid reflux while lying down.
- The higher the incline, the better, but the height must remain comfortable so you can sleep peacefully. For most people, 15-20 cm is the optimal height.
- The use of wedge-shaped pillows will ensure the correct position of the head during sleep. Aside from possible neck pain, these pillows are just as effective as raising the head of the bed. Many people tend to slide off a regular pillow, and a therapy pillow will keep your body in the right position all night long.
Step 3. The area of the shoulder blades also needs to be raised
The transition of the esophagus to the stomach is located in the region of the lower edge of the shoulder blades. Accordingly, in order to stop acid reflux, the area of the shoulder blades must also be elevated.
Leaving the shoulder blades at the same height, you may find that the reflux has not disappeared anywhere, and the general condition even worsened, as tension and pain in the neck and back were added
Step 4. Never use multiple pillows to lift the headboard
In this case, the angle of elevation of the head can cause contraction of the stomach, which will increase reflux and worsen the general condition.
Try to avoid using regular pillows while sleeping, as they can create additional tension in the abdomen by pushing out stomach contents. You can also easily slide off the pillow and the therapeutic effect will be lost
Step 5. Understand why these methods work
In an upright position, acid reflux occurs less frequently as gravity pulls the acidic contents downward. As soon as you change the position of the body, gravity ceases to hold back its contents in the stomach, and you are surprised to find it in your mouth again.
Raising the head of the bed significantly reduces the likelihood of contact of the esophageal mucosa with the acidic contents of the stomach. In some cases, lifting also relieves sleep disorders
Part 2 of 4: Preventing Acid Reflux
Step 1. Do not eat before bed
A late meal will wipe out all your efforts! Go to bed with an empty and dry stomach. The last meal is at least 3 hours before bed, and it is best not to drink anything 2 hours before you go to bed. Breaking this rule increases the likelihood of acid reflux.
Never lie down after a meal. Wait at least 3 hours before taking a horizontal position. This is enough to digest food so that the stomach becomes empty
Step 2. Avoid fatty foods
Fatty foods (fried foods, fast food, etc.) take longer to digest, so the stomach is more full. And the longer the food is in the stomach, the more chances of reverse reflux.
- Chocolates are high in fat and caffeine, which can also have a negative effect on GERD. Also, the chocolates may contain coconut oil, which stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, and the likelihood of acid reflux increases even more.
- Stomach acid production is stimulated by foods such as fried foods, tomato paste, alcohol, garlic, and onions.
Step 3. Chew the gum
Chewing gum increases saliva production and is a natural remedy for acid reflux. Knowing that you will have to eat something inappropriate, bring along a pack of chewing gum to reduce the likelihood of possible complications.
Choose your gum carefully. Mint flavor can cause acid reflux as mint instantly relaxes muscle valves and simultaneously increases stomach acid production
Step 4. Wear loose clothing
Clothes that are too tight put pressure on the stomach, and the acid under the extra pressure looks for any exits from the stomach, so the likelihood of acid reflux into the esophagus increases.
If you are about to feast or eat foods that stimulate acid reflux, try not to wear tight clothing (including underwear) to relieve your condition
Step 5. Refrain from coffee and orange juice
Drinking coffee makes a person energetic thanks to the caffeine it contains. But caffeine also stimulates the production of stomach acid, and the increased acidity increases the likelihood of stomach contents going backwards. Likewise, avoid anything that increases acidity (like orange juice).
- Juice from oranges and other citrus fruits contains a lot of vitamin C (or ascorbic acid). Ascorbic acid increases stomach acidity, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux.
- To reduce acid production, you should also avoid sodas and caffeinated teas.
Step 6. Start exercising
Physical activity reduces pressure inside the abdomen and is beneficial for someone with GERD. The main thing is that the duration of the workout should be at least 30 minutes a day. You can divide this half hour into several small sets. For example, a 10-minute walk three times a day is equivalent to one 30-minute walk.
Walking for 30 minutes a day can also help you lose weight. If you are bored of just walking, try swimming, walking your dog, gardening, or window shopping. window-shopping without shopping
Step 7. Control your weight
Being overweight and obese increases the likelihood of GERD. The stomach is under the pressure of stored fat, and there is a greater chance that its contents will escape into the esophagus. In some cases, losing weight is enough to get rid of GERD.
Avoid overeating. This will allow you to simultaneously control your weight and reduce the likelihood of acid reflux. The same amount of food is best divided into small portions, increasing the number of meals, and the stomach will not be overloaded
Step 8. Stop smoking
Smoking is one of the factors that increase the risk of developing GERD. Long-term smoking experience also increases damage to the esophagus and can cause cancer. Quitting smoking will give you instant relief.
Quitting smoking isn't just about getting rid of GERD. By quitting smoking, you will significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other illnesses, and you will also notice that your skin, hair, nails and teeth look much better
Part 3 of 4: Medication
Step 1. Consider taking antacids to neutralize the acid
Magnesium aluminum hydroxide (liquid) and other antacids neutralize hydrochloric acid in the stomach and esophagus. Relief, accompanied by a feeling of gentle cooling, is already observed when the fluid passes through the esophagus.
- The daily dose of antacids is 2-4 teaspoons (10-20 ml), divided into 4 doses. It is best to take them 20-60 minutes after meals.
- Antacids can cause side effects such as constipation and diarrhea.
Step 2. Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) is one of the best ways to prevent acid reflux
Inhibitors block the pump that produces hydrogen, which is needed for acid production. Accordingly, reducing the amount of acid reduces the likelihood of acid content entering the esophagus. For maximum effect, PPIs are taken 30 minutes before breakfast.
Daily dosage of different PPIs:
Omeprazole - 20 mg once a day
Lansoprazole - 30 mg once a day
Pantoprazole - 40 mg once a day
Esomeprazole - 40 mg once a day
Rabeprazole - 20 mg once a day.
- PPIs inhibitors can cause side effects - headache, abdominal pain, and gagging.
Step 3. Consider taking H2 receptor blockers (histamine)
H2 receptors are designed exclusively for the production of acid in the stomach, so H2 receptor blockers inhibit acid production. A doctor may prescribe them as an alternative to PPIs inhibitors.
The daily dose of various H2 blockers is:
Cimetidine - 300 mg 4 times a day
Ranitidine -150 mg 2 times a day
Famotidine - 20 mg 2 times a day
Nizatidine - 150 mg 2 times a day
- H2 blockers can cause side effects such as headaches, constipation and diarrhea.
Step 4. Visit your doctor for an expert opinion
Drug therapy is an essential adjunct to treating GERT at home. Typically, medications neutralize the acid or block its production. In addition to antacids (which can be purchased at any pharmacy and even at the grocery store), your doctor will be able to prescribe the best remedy for you.
Acid is an important component of digestion and stomach immunity. Long-term drug therapy can disrupt the digestive system. Using any medication for longer than 4 weeks is only possible with the permission of your doctor
Part 4 of 4: Explore GERD
Step 1. You are not alone
GERD syndromes are widespread among the population of most countries. Recent studies have shown that 7% of the US population experiences acid reflux daily, and 15% of the population experiences acid reflux at least once a week.
This does not mean that GERD is hopeless. With appropriate treatment, these indicators can be significantly reduced. Most people simply do not take any action, but the general trend is optimistic - 10 years ago, the number of people complaining of GERD was 50% more
Step 2. Understand what's going on in your body
The esophagus is the food tube that connects your mouth and stomach. In the stomach, food is mixed with acid in order to prepare it for absorption by the body. This is where acid comes in and acid reflux starts.
- Normally, the contents of the stomach pass into the intestines as soon as they are ready for absorption by the body. At the top and bottom of the esophagus, there are 2 muscle valves that prevent food from flowing back.
- Acid reflux is caused by a weakening of the muscle valve (sphincter) between the stomach and the esophagus. Acid from the gastric juice mixed with food scraps irritates the surface of the esophagus. Worsening acid reflux causes acidic contents to enter the mouth.
Step 3. Find out the risk factors
In everyday life, there are many factors contributing to the appearance of GERD. Among other things, acid reflux is caused by:
- Pregnancy. The elevation of the uterus changes the position of the stomach and other internal organs, pushing them up and forward, as a result of which the prerequisites for acid reflux are created.
- Smoking. Smoking increases the acidity of the stomach. It also weakens the sphincter, which blocks food from returning from the stomach to the esophagus.
- Obesity. Excess fat compresses the stomach and increases the pressure in it. When the pressure is very high, the acidic contents are forced into the esophagus.
- Tight and tight clothing. Any restrictions in the abdominal area increase the pressure inside the stomach, triggering acid reflux.
- Plentiful food. The stomach is stretched at the top to increase its volume. This increases the amount of acid near the junction of the stomach with the esophagus.
- Lying horizontally on your back. The horizontal position of the body (especially after eating) shifts the contents of the stomach to the region of the junction with the esophagus.
- Diabetes. If diabetes is left untreated, nerve tissue is damaged, including the vagus nerve (vagus), which is responsible for controlling the stomach and intestines.
Step 4. Find out what the symptoms of GERD look like
Some people don't pay attention to them and don't even know they have acid reflux. Pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Heartburn. Heartburn is a sensation of warmth and burning in the middle of the chest. It is often felt in this area as the esophagus runs under the heart.
- Increased salivation. The body reacts to acid reflux with increased salivary glands. Saliva is a natural remedy for acidity reduction.
- Frequent throat clearing. " Clearing the throat helps tighten the muscles of the esophageal sphincters, thereby reducing the likelihood of acid reflux.
- Bitter taste in the mouth. Intense acid reflux can reach the mouth and this causes a very unpleasant bitter taste in the mouth.
- It is difficult to swallow. When acid reflux causes severe irritation to the esophagus, it becomes difficult to swallow food and causes pain in the esophagus.
- Rotten teeth. If severe acid reflux reaches the mouth regularly, the acidic content negatively affects dental health.
Typically, acid reflux is caused by more than one food. Keeping a food diary can help identify the main triggers that trigger stomach contents back up into the esophagus, as well as the foods that are most unpleasant
- See your doctor urgently if you notice progressive complications of food intake combined with dramatic weight loss. You need to make sure these are not cancer symptoms.
- Elderly people should see a doctor if they experience heartburn. At an older age, heart attack and heartburn have similar symptoms.