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Treating Your Acid Reflux

Know when you may need to turn to a professional to treat your acid reflux.

Acid reflux and heartburn are incredibly common. In fact, everything from a night of eating spicy food to a champagne-heavy New Year’s Eve celebration can induce that unpleasant burning sensation in the chest and throat. But what if acid reflux is something that happens to you regularly? While this nuisance may seem harmless enough, if you experience acid reflux several times a week for weeks on end then it’s time to see one of our Orlando, FL, gastroenterologists.

What do regular bouts of acid reflux mean?

Every time we eat, our stomachs produce acid, which helps break up food and aids in digestion; however, when this acid travels back up the esophagus this can trigger acid reflux. Reasons for acid reflux include,

  • Eating spicy, acidic, or fatty foods
  • Consuming alcohol or caffeine
  • Consuming large meals in one sitting
  • Lying down immediately after eating
  • Smoking
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Stress
  • Certain medications (e.g. painkillers)
  • Pregnancy

Of course, if you are experiencing acid reflux at least twice a week or a severe bout of acid reflux at least once a week then you could be dealing with a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

If you are dealing with acid reflux regularly you must visit our Orlando, FL, GI doctor to find out if you could be dealing with GERD. If left untreated, GERD can cause severe damage and inflammation to the lining of the esophagus and may even increase your risk for cancer.

How do I treat acid reflux on my own?

If you only deal with the occasional bout of acid reflux, then there are certain lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your risk. Some of these changes include,

  • Avoiding spicy, fried, or fatty foods
  • Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, or carbonated beverages
  • Eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than large meals
  • Not eating for 2-3 hours before going to bed
  • Not lying down immediately after eating
  • Losing excess weight
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding over-the-counter painkillers
  • Not wear tight clothing or clothes that put pressure on the stomach, especially when eating

When should I see a gastroenterologist?

If you are dealing with regular occurrences of acid reflux, then it’s time to see a GI specialist. You should also visit us if you find that these lifestyle changes aren’t providing you with the relief you need. Since over-the-counter antacids are not designed to be used for several weeks or even months at a time, you must see a gastroenterologist for more effective long-term maintenance of your acid reflux symptoms.

Two of the most common medications used to treat acid reflux include,

  • H-2-receptor blockers: There are both over the counter and prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers, which are designed to provide longer relief from symptoms (up to 12 hours)
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These medications are incredibly strong and actually block the production of stomach acid to give the damaged esophageal tissue ample time to heal

Don’t let acid reflux dictate where you can and can’t go to dinner in Orlando. Enjoy the meals you love without punishment. Turn to our Digestive and Liver Center of Florida for help. Call us today at (407) 384-7388 for an evaluation.

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