In 2018 I was sent for a Gastroscopy due to suffering from chronic acid reflux. They discovered that I had a sliding hiatus hernia. If you have ever experienced acid reflux you will have some idea of how painful it is. When I get it, it is usually during the early hours of the morning. I wake up suddenly gasping for breath because the acid always goes into my lungs.
I didn’t even know this was an actual thing that could happen. After an episode of acid reflux, not only am I left with a sore throat for a period of time but I am also left with shortness of breath and a wheezing cough. Often for weeks at a time. Repeated episodes like this can cause permanent damage to your lungs. As I have had acid reflux for a few years, I think this is happening to me. I no longer have a recovery period of a few weeks. I am short of breath and have a wheezing cough the majority of the time now. On top of this, I also have several chronic illnesses, so it can exacerbate them too.
Dealing with this can be not only scary but it also makes me exhausted all of the time because my lung capacity is so much less than it was. I have had to look at ways that I can make living with chronic acid reflux easier.
6 Things you can do to Make Living with Chronic Acid Reflux easier
1. Know You food triggers
If you know what foods seem to trigger your acid reflux, you can make sure to avoid them. My triggers are chocolate, carbonated drinks and mint. Some of the other most common ones are spicy food, caffeine, high-fat food and citrus/tomato products. If you are not sure, the best way to determine what is triggering you is to keep a food journal.
2. Don’t eat Big Meals Late
2. Try and eat 2-4 hrs before you go to sleep. I try my hardest not to eat past 6 pm and I sleep around midnight. If you have to eat later, then try not to have a big bulky meal. eating something light will have much less risk of triggering an acid reflux attack.
3. Sleep with your head Elevated or propped up
3. I highly recommend sleeping with your head elevated if you get acid reflux a lot. It’s recommended to elevate your head 4-8 inches. My pillows are higher than that and I have a V-shaped support cushion too. So, I sleep almost sitting up. I’ve found this really helps reduce the number of acid reflux attacks that I get.
4. Speak to your doctor about medications to help
If you haven’t already spoken to your doctor about your acid reflux then I suggest doing so. My doctor put me on Omeprazole, which is a Proton Pump Inhibitor. Most of the time this works. When I get acid reflux now it’s usually because I have slipped down and my head is too low. Or I have eaten a heavy meal too late.
5. Overall Lifestyle Changes
You can make some lifestyle changes that will help too. If you’re carrying too much weight, then losing a few pounds will help. It’s also advised to stop smoking if you want less chance of acid reflux attacks. Avoiding alcohol is also something you can do too.
6. Ease the symptoms
If you do have an attack then you can immediately help to ease the symptoms by drinking low-fat milk, water, herbal tea, such as ginger tea. I personally find that milk soothes the burning pain. Water can work okay if it’s not too bad. For the shortness of breath, you may experience I really recommend purchasing some canned oxygen like the ones from Oxygen Concentrator UK. These are great, especially, if like me you panic when woken by an attack suddenly and you can’t catch your breath! They’re also good for afterwards if you’ve been left with shortness of breath. Plus, it certainly helps to improve my energy, concentration and gives me some much-needed energy to combat the tiredness.
The most important thing is to find what works best for you. It really is worth learning your triggers.
These are just the things that I’ve personally found to help me. However, I am not a medical professional. So, I also strongly advise you to seek medical advice from your doctor to make sure there is no underlying problem causing the chronic acid reflux.