You probably know the old adage ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Well, it can’t be any more relevant than when talking about acid reflux. Not only are reflux symptoms painful, but if left untreated, can lead to very serious complications. Complications that can be difficult, if not impossible, to heal. That’s why it is very important to prevent acid reflux BEFORE it gets out of control. In this case, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a TON of cure!’.
“But I AM preventing it! I’m taking Prilosec every morning and that’s supposed to keep my stomach from producing acid, right? Isn’t THAT prevention?”
I guess you could call it that. A more accurate description would be something like ‘pharmaceutical maintenance’. You’re using a manufactured drug to inhibit a normal body function (making acid). The problem isn’t with your acid-producers. It’s with whatever it is that is making your acid-producers work overtime. If you had some disease which, on it’s own, caused your stomach to produce excess acid, then I would say you probably need to get on some medication to keep the acid production in check. But, in most cases of reflux, your acid producers are just doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s external causes that are the problem.
Think of it this way: if your remote control isn’t working, would you smash your TV with a hammer to turn it off?! Of COURSE not! You certainly accomplished your goal, didn’t you? But you did so by breaking something that was working perfectly fine, instead of fixing the thing that was broken. That doesn’t make much sense, does it?
So the old saying applies “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
To prevent acid reflux, you need to identify and ‘fix’ the areas that ARE ‘broke’:
- DIET – what you put into your stomach is important. Avoid spicy and acidic foods, as they add acid to your stomach. Minimize intake of drinks with caffeine and citrus for the same reason.
- LIFESTYLE – if you smoke, try to quit if you can. If you’re overweight, try to lose some. Even something as simple as bending over or lying down after a meal, can trigger a reflux attack
- MEDICATIONS – watch out for drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, since they can be acid-producing. Any muscle relaxers can affect the stomach muscles, allowing for reflux to occur. Steroids can also cause acid reflux.