Acid reflux or heartburn is technically known as gastroesophageal reflux. A person with acid reflux or heartburn may feel a burning sensation in their throat and chest, which may be quite painful and distressing. Acid reflux occurs when the valve, or sphincter, that connects the stomach to the esophagus, or food pipe, is weakened. When this happens, stomach acid, which should stay in the stomach, flows back into the food pipe. Because the acid is an irritant, the lining of the food pipe also becomes inflamed, and this can cause discomfort. Acid reflux or heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of a more chronic, yet common, disease of the digestive system called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Drinks to Avoid With Acid Reflux
Managing the acid reflux symptoms mainly involves learning what triggers the symptoms and then avoiding them. People with acid reflux best avoid alcohol. Certain foods are much more likely to cause acid reflux. As the symptoms occur quite soon after eating the offending food, it is usually quite easy to narrow down what may be causing them. It is also important for a person with acid reflux to consider what they are drinking. This is often overlooked when evaluating eating habits. Certain beverages are the worst offenders when it comes to triggering acid reflux.
Alcohol further relaxes the valve between the stomach and the food pipe, and it stimulates the stomach to produce more acid. The bubbles found in carbonated beverages expand in the stomach. This creates pressure on the sphincter, and it can push stomach acid and contents back into the food pipe.
2. Caffeinated Beverages
Caffeine aggravates acid reflux. It is found in coffee, tea, and soda. Switching to decaf versions of these drinks can help to minimize the symptoms.
Chocolate contains both caffeine and cocoa, and both of these increase acid reflux symptoms. Not only chocolate candy but chocolate in the form of hot cocoa or chocolate milk can also be a trigger.
4. Citrus Juices
Juices made from citrus fruits, like oranges or grapefruits, are high in acid. This can worsen acid reflux symptoms.
Drink This to Avoid Acid Reflux Symptoms
There are not many foods that can be used to treat acid reflux. Instead, the person should avoid the triggers and foods that cause the symptoms. However, some drinks can help minimize the symptoms.
1. Ginger Tea
Ginger tea with a little honey may help relieve acid reflux. Ginger is a natural stomach soother, and it can contribute to reducing the production of stomach acid. Caffeine-free ginger tea with a little honey as a sweetener is best. Ginger ale is unlikely to help, because it is carbonated, and it may contain caffeine. Also, most commercial ginger ale sodas do not contain enough ginger to have an effect.
Dairy products can sometimes reduce acid reflux symptoms. People with acid reflux can try plain yogurt, with a little bit of added honey if needed for sweetness.
Drinking Best Practices
The way that a person drinks their beverages can also worsen or cause acid reflux or heartburn. Some good ways to help minimize the symptoms include drinking throughout the day to stay hydrated and to avoid drinking large quantities all at once. Giving up late-night beverages and snacks, and staying upright after having something to drink
More Tips for Preventing Acid Reflux and GERD
Other self-care measures can help to manage acid reflux and other symptoms of GERD; these include: losing weight if needed, quitting smoking, elevating the head of the bed when sleeping, and, avoiding tight-fitting clothing
Some medications are available over the counter for heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms; these include antacids that neutralize stomach acids, such as Gaviscon or Tums, H-2-receptor blockers that can decrease acid production in the stomach for up to 12 hours, such as ranitidine (Zantac), and lastly, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that block acid production for long enough to enable the food pipe to heal. Prescription-strength H-2 receptor blockers and PPIs are available from a doctor if over-the-counter medications do not work. They are effective, but long-term use may increase the risk of bone fracture, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and some infections such as pneumonia and C. difficile.
Symptoms of GERD
- Acid reflux or heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the throat or chest
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Dry cough
- Feeling like there’s a lump in the throat
- Regurgitation of food or acid
Acid reflux is usually mild, but an uncomfortable symptom of GERD
Some people experience it when they eat certain foods. Other people have more serious symptoms of GERD that interfere with their everyday life. Also, some medical conditions make people more likely to experience some of the symptoms of GERD.
These conditions include:
- Nicotine use
- Dry mouth
- Certain connective tissue disorders
- A hiatal hernia, where the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm
When to See a Doctor
If a person is affected by regular and severe episodes of acid reflux or heartburn, they should see a doctor, as it may develop into something more serious. However, if the acid reflux is just occasional, it is usually managed with simple lifestyle changes, home remedies, and over-the-counter medications. Acid reflux, though uncomfortable, is very treatable. Some cases can easily be managed at home with some lifestyle changes and the avoidance of triggers. Severe symptoms of GERD may require the use of medication, or in rare cases, surgery.
The Bottom Line
If an individual has severe or frequent symptoms of acid reflux, they should visit their doctor to rule out other conditions. The doctor may want to examine the food pipe to see if more serious damage to the tissue has occurred. It is especially important to seek medical attention if someone thinks they are experiencing acid reflux or any other symptoms of GERD but also has other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain, or right arm pain. These signs may indicate something more serious, such as a heart attack.
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