Acid reflux will ruin your day. If you ever see anyone looking like they’re both struggling to hear something and finding it difficult to swallow at the same time, that pained facial expression is probably due to acid reflux. But what is it? Well, it’s probably exactly what you already think it is: stomach acid that has flowed up your windpipe. Whereas the stomach lining is constantly replaced and we do not feel the burn of the stomach acid while it’s where it’s supposed to be, the lining of the windpipe (or oesophagus) is not equipped to handle the burning effects of the acid. It feels like someone is holding a flame-thrower against your throat.
For some people, acid reflux is nothing new. Whether the contributing factors lie with lifestyle, diet, or underlying medical conditions, people with regular acid reflux know the drill. For those who rarely experience this uncomfortable zing in the throat (which can also often be felt in the ears due to the presence of ‘tubes’ that link the ears to the throat – the same tubes that allow you to close your mouth and hold your nose and blow hard to pop your ears), learning a few natural ways to deal with the condition may be more useful than googling things like ‘Is Zantac the same as Ranitidine?’
Stop overeating and lose weight
We may as well start with the biggies. Acid reflux occurs when the muscles used close to the stomach are weakened. And one of the reasons for weakened stomach muscles is overeating, which literally forces the stomach open. By reducing meal size, the stomach muscles will find it easier to contract, closing the stomach and reducing the backflow of stomach acid.
Being overweight naturally weakens the diaphragm, which is another large muscle that works in conjunction with the stomach muscles in maintaining a healthy and strong digestive system. Where the diaphragm is weakened, the stomach will receive no outside assistance in the battle against holding back any acid flow.
Coffee and alcohol
It’s funny how medical advice always seems to centre on losing weight and limiting our intake of alcohol, but in the case of acid reflux, reducing the intake of coffee and alcohol represents giant leaps towards saying goodbye to that burning feeling in the throat. Studies have shown that coffee and alcohol have a temporary weakening effect on the sphincter muscles found at the opening to the stomach, meaning an excessive amount of either liquid can cause acid reflux.
Avoid raw onion
Onion is an overpowering and disgusting flavour, employed as a draconian torture device by dinner party hosts who don’t like you very much (in my humble opinion). Onion also weakens the muscles in the windpipe, which can cause acid reflux. Steer clear!
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.