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Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Acid Reflux Causes

These lifestyle adjustments can greatly improve symptoms and may help you to avoid dependence on antacid medicines:

  1. Avoid smoking. Smoking loosens the lower esophageal sphincter and it also decreases saliva production, so the esophagus is less thoroughly rinsed.

  2. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol reliably loosens the lower esophageal sphincter, worsening reflux.

  3. Avoid fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, and caffeine. These foods all loosen the lower esophageal sphincter.

  4. Avoid carbonated beverages. These increase burping frequency and promote reflux episodes.

  5. Eat small, slow, and frequent meals. Contents in a distended stomach are more likely to back-flow into the esophagus. Also, hurried eating or drinking can cause you to have increased gas due to swallowed air.

  6. When heartburn is active, limit foods that are acidic or irritating. Tomatoes, citrus fruits, or spicy foods can further irritate your esophagus if it is already feeling "raw."

  7. Eat your evening meal well ahead of your bedtime. Lying down right after eating can promote more severe reflux.

  8. Angle up the head of your bed. You should raise your head six inches above your foot level with either a rigid foam wedge beneath the mattress or wooden blocks beneath the legs at the head of the bed.

  9. Keep up adequate saliva production. It may be helpful to use lozenges or chew gum in order to increase the rinsing of your esophagus. You should also drink plenty of fluids.

  10. Lose weight if you are obese. Extra abdominal mass increases the pressure that pushes against the lower esophageal sphincter, limiting its chances of staying closed.

When you continue, we will discuss medicines that worsen reflux and medicines that help.

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