What can I do to help with symptoms?
*Smoking. The chemicals from cigarettes relax the sphincter muscle and make acid reflux more likely. Symptoms may ease if you are a smoker and stop smoking.
*Some foods and drinks may make reflux worse in some people. It is thought that some foods may relax the sphincter and allow more acid to reflux. It is difficult to be certain how much foods contribute. Let common sense be your guide. If it seems that a food is causing symptoms, then try avoiding it for a while to see if symptoms improve. Foods and drinks that have been suspected of making symptoms worse in some people include: peppermint, tomatoes, chocolate, spicy foods, hot drinks, coffee, and alcoholic drinks. Also, avoiding large volume meals may help.
*Some drugs may make symptoms worse. They may irritate the oesophagus, or relax the sphincter muscle and make acid reflux more likely. The most common culprits are anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen or aspirin). Others include: diazepam, theophylline, nitrates, and calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine. But this is not an exhaustive list. Tell a doctor if you suspect that a drug is causing the symptoms, or making symptoms worse.
*Weight. If you are overweight it puts extra pressure on the stomach and encourages acid reflux. Losing some weight may ease the symptoms.
*Posture. Lying down or bending forward a lot during the day encourages reflux. Sitting hunched or wearing tight belts may put extra pressure on the stomach which may make any reflux worse.
*Bedtime. If symptoms recur most nights, the following may help:
*Go to bed with an empty, dry stomach. To do this, don’t eat in the last three hours before bedtime, and don’t drink in the last two hours before bedtime.
*If you are able, try raising the head of the bed by 10-20 cms (for example, with books or bricks under the bed’s legs). This helps gravity to keep acid from refluxing into the oesophagus. If you do this do not use additional pillows, because this may increase abdominal pressure.