Top Heartburn / Acid Reflux Prevention Tips
There are simple lifestyle changes you can make and tips you can follow that will help you prevent heartburn.
1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
A full stomach can put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the esophagus.
2. Avoid foods and beverages that can trigger reflux of stomach contents.
Some foods and beverages increase the risk of reflux by relaxing the LES. These include alcohol; beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola drinks; carbonated beverages; citrus fruits and juices; tomatoes and tomato sauces; chocolate; spicy and fatty foods.
3. Don't eat within two to three hours before bedtime.
Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.
4. If you're overweight, lose the extra pounds.
Obesity increases abdominal pressure, which can then push stomach contents up into the esophagus.
5. Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep.
Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks or anything that's sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use an extra pillow, or a wedge-shaped pillow, to elevate your head.
6. Don't wear belts or clothes that are tight fitting around the waist.
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the exophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts and slenderizing undergarments.
7. Stop smoking.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the LES as they pass from the lungs into the blood.
8. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. It also increases the production of stomach acid. If you want to consume alcohol, follow these tips: Dilute alcoholic beverages with water or club soda, drink moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages -- the suggested amounts are 1-2 mixed drinks, 12-16 ounces of wine, or 2-3 beers, drink white wine instead of red, choose non-alcoholic beer or wine whenever you can.
9. Keep a heartburn record.
Record what triggerd your acid reflux episodes, the severity of each episode, how your body reacts, and what gives you relief. The next step is to take this information to your doctor so the both of you can determine what lifestyle changes you will need to make and what treatments will give you maximum relief.
10. Take your medication at the same time every day.
It is very important to take your medication every day. If you are prone to forgetting, leave yourself a note to remind you or take your medication when you do another daily activity that you don't forget doing, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face.