- Work on losing weight. Obesity leads to hiatus hernia and reflux which are in turn responsible for the increasing rates of esophageal cancer. Talk to your family physician about developing a plan to lose weight by eating well and exercising regularly.
- Don’t lie down after eating. For those with acid reflux, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach doesn’t function properly, allowing the contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus. Lying down can make this problem worse, leading to late-night heartburn. Be sure to eat early to give your stomach time to empty before bedtime.
- Sleep with your head elevated. Lying down can exacerbate reflux disease. If you have reflux, consider taking action to make sure that your head and upper chest are elevated while you sleep. Stomach acid, like water, does not roll uphill. You can raise one end of your bed so that your head is elevated as compared with your feet or you can use new products like the Gravity 1st elevated sleep systems inflatable mattress that allows you to sleep at a significant, but comfortable seven inch incline.
- Take an antacid. Neutralize stomach acid before it backs up into the esophagus with antacids.
- Talk to your doctor. If you have a long history of severe heartburn or acid indigestion, talk to your doctor about Barrett’s esophagus, which increases your risk of developing cancer. Even if your acid reflux symptoms are controlled, you still could be at risk. The only way to diagnose Barrett’s is with an endoscopy and biopsy.
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