Acid reflux disease or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a common problem in Utah and the United States. In fact, more than 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn and acid reflux monthly.
If you’re suffering, you’re not alone.
What is Acid Reflux Disease or GERD?
Reflux, or GERD, occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. At the base of the esophagus is a ring of muscle that contracts to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus. This muscle works well for most people. However, for people who suffer from acid reflux, the ring of muscle or the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly. As a result, acid enters the sensitive tissue within the esophagus and throat and creates a burning sensation. Most sufferers recognize this pain as heartburn.
In some cases, however, reflux can be silent. In other words, no symptoms appear until a problem arises.
“Only one-third of reflux sufferers have heartburn,” says Dr. John Bennett, an ENT doctor in Salt Lake City, Utah, “The other two-thirds have silent reflux, where throat fullness, throat clearing, coughing, and hoarseness are common.”
At the Ear, Nose and Throat Center, we see patients every day from Salt Lake City, Sandy and Draper, Utah who suffer from reflux, GERD or plain old heartburn. We’re here to help. But you can also help yourself avoid reflux and heartburn by becoming aware of foods that trigger or cause heartburn, reflux or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
Foods That Trigger Reflux and Heartburn
Acid reflux is a chronic condition. That means there is no cure. Fortunately, reflux is fairly easy to manage through a mix of dietary changes and prescription medicines, if necessary.
“Modifying what you eat can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Bennett. “Watch out for spicy foods, but also acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus. Other culprits are greasy foods, milk-based foods, caffeine, chocolate, mint, as well as alcohol and tobacco.”
The following foods are known to trigger acid reflux:
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes)
- Fatty and fried food (french fries, fried chicken)
- Fast food
- Spicy foods (tacos, curry)
- Tomato sauces and juice
Lifestyle and Diet Changes to Help Avoid Reflux
- Limit or avoid reflux trigger foods. A dietary diary can help you discover the foods that trigger reflux. Every patient is different and we can help you pinpoint problem foods.
- Eat earlier in the evening. Eating early allows your stomach more time to digest food before you sleep. We also recommend you eat nothing at least three hours before sleeping.
- Eat smaller portions. Eating too much can lead to indigestion and reflux. Eat less and feel better.
- Lose weight. Even losing 5 pounds can improve reflux symptoms.
- Raise the top of your mattress 4 to 6 inches. A flat mattress can trigger reflux while sleeping, so a small change in sleeping position can make a big difference.
- Eliminate tobacco use. Smoking is bad for you in many ways. Stopping can help you avoid reflux as well as reduce your risk for many types of cancer. The Ear, Nose and Throat Center can help you stop smoking.
Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center
Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 to set an appointment. Our ENT doctors in Salt Lake City and Draper, Utah will work with you to diagnose and treat your acid reflux and heartburn symptoms and provide guidance on lifestyle and diet changes that can help you reduce the impact of acid reflux disease on your life.