Most of the lifestyle changes centre around reducing the pressure on the stomach and making it harder for acid to get into the oesophagus. They include:
- Smoking may relax the valve between the oesophagus and stomach, making it easier for acid to reflux. Quitting smoking is always a good idea, but the prospect of easing your reflux symptoms is an added incentive
- Some foods, such as peppermint, tomatoes, spicy foods and chocolate may also relax the valve. You may find it helpful to keep a food and drink diary to work out your triggers so you can avoid them
- Alcohol may relax the valve, as well as causing indigestion and inflammation of the stomach. Keep alcohol to a minimum
- Don’t wear tight belts, girdles or trousers
- Avoid sitting hunched or bent forward for long periods
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Eat your last meal earlier in the evening (at least three hours before bedtime)
- Try to lose weight if you’re overweight, it adds extra pressure on the stomach which encourages acid reflux.
There are four types of medicine used in managing the symptoms of acid reflux; Alginates, antacids, H2RA’s and PPI’s.
If your heartburn is mild and infrequent, adapting your lifestyle and taking antacids is often enough to manage symptoms associated with the condition.
If your symptoms are more severe or more frequent, you may be advised to consider an acid-suppressing medication. Your pharmacist can advise on both forms of treatment and which would be best for you.
Antacids and Alginates
Antacids neutralise excess acid in the stomach and alginates form a protective raft over the stomach contents.
An antacid and alginate combination provides fast-acting, effective relief. It soothes symptoms and provides relief for up to four hours.
There are two groups of acid-suppressing medications available – proton pump inhibitors and histamine receptor blockers (H2 blockers). Both reduce the amount of acid made by the stomach. They do not start to work as quickly as antacids or alignates, but their effect can last longer.
1Reference: MASON, J & HUNGIN, A. P. A. (2005). Review article: gastro-oesophageal reflux disease – the health economic implications. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeautics, 22(s1), 20-31. https://doi/org/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2005.02606
Article published 1 January 2021