Drugs to treat acid reflux linked to fatal conditions
You finish a meal, and then it hits you. There’s a gurgle-gurgle sound in your stomach. You feel sick. Hiccups keep coming back. And then comes heartburn and acidy burps.
Been there, done that? An estimated 60 million adults in the U.S. suffer from acid reflux disease, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. It’s also known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Chances are pretty good you’ve heard the commercials or seen the ads for over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat acid reflux. But in a recent study, researchers found that long-term use of medications for acid reflux actually raises the risk for stomach ulcers, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Are you at risk for acid reflux?
While anyone can develop acid reflux, the National Institutes of Health says you’re more likely to develop it if you’re:
- Overweight or obese
- Taking certain medications
- Smoke or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke
Fortunately, changes to your diet and lifestyle can help control acid reflux without medication. Here are some things you can do:
- Slow down at meal time. If you eat a lot of food all at once, acid in your stomach will ‘fill the tank.” And you’ll be more likely to experience those tell-tale signs. Eat slower. Or eat smaller meals throughout the day.
- Know your food triggers. Was it something you ate? The spicy burrito, the deep-fried chicken, or the decadent dessert? Foods that can trigger acid reflux include alcohol, chocolate, tea, coffee, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy foods, high-fat foods, and even mint. Use the FitLyfe platform to track your diet. If you have acid reflux, review your food choices, and avoid those triggers.
- According to Johns Hopkins University, foods that can help reduce acid reflux include:
- High-fiber foods including whole grains and vegetables.
- Alkaline foods (low in acid) like bananas, melons, nuts, and cauliflower.
- Water-based foods such as celery, cucumber, lettuce, and tea
- Break the soda habit. It’s not rocket science. Carbonated beverages make you burp, and that can send acid into the esophagus. Over time, this damages the esophagus. Instead of soda, drink water.
- Take a casual walk after eating. It’s a great way to improve digestion, burn a few extra calories, and prevent acid reflux. Just don’t overdo it. Eat dinner at least three hours before going to bed.
- Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to. When you’re overweight, your body has a harder time closing the lower part of the esophagus to keep acid out. If you’re overweight or obese (that’s about 72% of all adults), tipping the scale in the right direction will improve your health and lower your risk for acid reflux.
- Don’t smoke, or quit if you do. Why? Nicotine can cause the lower part of the esophagus to relax, allowing more acid to leave the stomach.
- Talk to your doctor. Some medications increase the risk for acid reflux, including medications to treat menopause, depression, inflammation, and osteoporosis.
Take a closer look at this list, and you’ll see that diet and lifestyle habits can help you prevent or manage acid reflux, and be healthier.
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