If you regularly suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you’re probably acutely familiar with heartburn (and not in a good way). You may have noticed that the symptoms occur after consuming certain foods or drinks. The pain you experience may have made you think twice about indulging in old favorite foods, even if you just want a “cheat day.”
But GERD symptoms can happen even when you don’t expect them. Needless to say, this can be quite frustrating and take a toll on your quality of life. You may know for a fact that you avoided the hot dogs at the barbecue and refused the orange juice at breakfast, yet later you clutch your chest in pain anyway, wondering what you did wrong to cause this. Dr. David L. Chengelis, a general surgeon in Troy, Michigan, can evaluate your symptoms and help you understand what lifestyle changes you may need to make to prevent frequent GERD attacks.
It isn’t just what you eat
Though the foods you eat can trigger unpleasant reflux, it isn’t always what you eat, but when, such as late at night. GERD can also be triggered by certain actions after eating, such as lying down within an hour of finishing a meal, or lying on your side, which means your stomach is higher than your esophagus. This can increase your risk of acid coming back into your esophagus later.
GERD can also be triggered by wearing extremely tight clothing for long periods of time, as well as regular smoking.
What you can do instead
Fortunately, once you’re aware of GERD triggers that don’t have to do with food, you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly to avoid symptoms. For example, you can stay upright after meals – no nap after that long Thanksgiving meal! Try going on a leisurely walk after eating, or otherwise keep active in some way. You can also invest in a wedge pillow to keep your head elevated in your sleep. Dr. Chengelis can recommend special medical supply stores to purchase one. You can also try chewing non-mint flavored gum, which helps decrease stomach acid.
Finally, if you are a smoker, you may want to consider quitting. Dr. Chengelis can recommend pills, patches, or other methods to help decrease your nicotine cravings.
Learn more about GERD triggers and how to avoid them
You can reach Dr. Chengelis by calling 248-289-5723, or book your appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you.