Heartburn. Indigestion. We’ve all had it (as many as 20% of Americans, in fact). That acid feeling in your throat, sometimes leading to a dry cough, ‘sometimes even a lingering sore throat. It happens commonly. It’s so common that over the counter (OTC) drugs like omeprazole are readily available at the drugstore, in addition to the variety of antacid pills and liquids to take. Those medications can work well to help reduce stomach acid and relieve the discomfort – when used safely and appropriately! I’s always important to check with your doctor to know which therapy is safe for you based on your medical status, and to always take the doses as recommended on the bottle.
Treatment provides short-term relief, but long-term relief often comes from further evaluation. There are some treatable medical causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), as it’s known medically; these include things like a hiatal hernia or bacterial H. Pylori infection. Lifestyle modification can be critical, though, in controlling severe or recurrent GERD.
One common issue becomes eating, particularly late in the evening, and lying down shortly afterwards; while the stomach is still producing acid to digest food tilting sideways to lie down end up causing the acid to drain back to the throat. Similarly, GERD is often association with trigger foods; this includes items like tomatoes, coffee, soft drinks, milk, and gluten that generate excess acid in the diet and worsen heartburn as a result. Thinking about what you eat, and when you eat it, can have an impact on helping control heartburn. Similarly, moderating portion size and reducing heavy, high fat meals can reduce the burden on the stomach and reduce the risk of indigestion. Last but not least -a little healthy evening stroll! Far too often, we sit and eat and then sit afterwards too. An evening stroll after dinner, even for 15 minutes, can help food digest and flow down the gut, reducing the likelihood of indigestion developing.
In the end, if you have issues with severe or recurrent indigestion, take the time to talk with your doctor about the right treatment plan, including lifestyle modification, appropriate diagnostics, and safe, effective treatment to get it under good control. There are multiple different strategies that can be tailored to match your personal needs.