Acid reflux, also known as heartburn or just reflux, is a common yet painful condition many Americans struggle with. The good news is that acid reflux can go away with a few lifestyle changes and help from over-the-counter medicines.
Do I have Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux happens when acid from your stomach backs up into your throat and causes uncomfortable symptoms like chest pain, a burning sensation in your throat, or a sour taste in your mouth.
Usually, muscles at the top of your stomach open to allow food into the stomach and close to let the stomach process the food. When these muscles are weakened or when there is extra pressure on the stomach, acid can get through these muscles and enter the esophagus.
Acid reflux can happen to anyone at any age and can be worsened by obesity or a poor diet. If your heartburn is severe or occurs for an extended period of time, you may have GERD and will need to visit a doctor for treatment.
How to Treat Reflux
There are many changes you can make to reduce or get rid of your acid reflux completely. Avoid eating spicy, fatty, or acidic foods and don’t overeat or lay down immediately after a meal. For some people, wearing tight clothing or obesity can cause reflux, so it is best to avoid these triggers.
Over-the-counter medications can relieve mild symptoms of heartburn.
- Antacids are quick-acting and can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, but antacids won’t heal the damage already caused in the stomach or esophagus.
- H-2 receptor blockers (such as Zantac and Pepcid) provide longer-term relief by reducing acid production in the stomach.
- Proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium) work similarly to H-2 receptor blockers by stopping acid production, but also heal damage in your esophagus and stomach.
With a few lifestyle changes and the help of over-the-counter medications, relief from heartburn is possible and acid reflux can go away on its own.
If you’ve already made these changes and are still experiencing heartburn or acid reflux, talk to your doctor about GERD. GERD can be a serious medical condition and will need medical treatment to cure.