How can I treat acid reflux?
You can treat acid reflux by changing how and what you eat and drink and other aspects of your lifestyle. There are also medications available: antacids and indigestion tablets. Many people also use home remedies to treat acid reflux.
Prescription Acid Reflux Treatment
A doctor can prescribe you a medicine called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. You take PPIs 30 minutes before you eat either once or twice a day. They normally take two to four days to start working, and your doctor will usually recommend you take them for between four and 12 weeks. If you take them for a longer period, the reduction in stomach acid can raise your risk of side effects, but this will depend on how long you're taking medication, and even then the risks are small.
There are different types of PPI. They all work similarly, but their ingredients mean that some are more suitable for certain people and specific conditions. This means you may be prescribed a PPI for acid reflux that is different to someone else. Your doctor will be able to give you a prescription for the right PPI for you.
Antacids are medications that are either liquid or chewable tablets that you can buy without a prescription. They work by neutralising the acid in your stomach, which means there is less acid to cause heartburn.
Antacids relieve the symptoms of acid reflux but do not treat the underlying cause. As a result, they are not recommended as long-term medication.
The following can help reduce the occurrence or severity of acid reflux:
- stopping smoking
- reducing your alcohol intake
- avoiding food or drink that triggers your symptoms
- eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding eating within 3 hours of going to bed
- losing weight if you are overweight
- reducing your stress and anxiety if you are stressed and anxious
- sleeping with your head and chest above the level of your waist
- avoiding wearing clothes that are tight around your waist
- talking to your doctor before you start or stop taking medication
There are various home remedies that people use to treat acid reflux. There is little research to show how effective they are:
- Milk can act as a buffer in the stomach and stop acid increasing; however, the fat content in some types of milk can also aggravate acid reflux.
- Ginger is alkaline and anti-inflammatory, neutralising the acid and easing irritation in the digestive tract.
- Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice have acidic properties, but when diluted with warm water, some people find they help their acid reflux. Research is unclear why this is and some people find it does not work or even aggravates their symptoms.
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