Frequent heartburn may mean you have GERD. Learn more about GERD, what causes it, and natural treatments that can bring relief.
If you suffer from frequent heartburn - twice a week or more - you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, the feeling of a ball in the throat, a bitter taste and respiratory problems, including aggravation of asthma. Diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.
If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as angina, which has similar symptoms. Discuss any medications you are taking: some can trigger reflux. If you are started on an acid-suppressing medication, try to view this as temporary relief while you work on the root concerns, as the long-term side effects are concerning. If you want to naturally treat GERD try the following:
- Keep a food and beverage journal. It can help you identify, track and later avoid triggers.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction and help reduce GERD.
- Avoid lying down after eating.
- Try a 3-week elimination of common food sensitivities like gluten and dairy.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
- Sip chamomile tea or chew DGL licorice tablets. Both can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
- Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus. Raising the head of the bed by a few inches can also help.