If you suffer from acid reflux, you know that feeling all too well. You're sitting at your desk, working away on a project, when suddenly you get a burning sensation in your chest. You know that it's acid reflux, and it's happening again. You try to ignore it, but the pain worsens until it finally affects your productivity and concentration.
If you're unlucky, this might even happen on more than one occasion and can make even the simplest tasks an ordeal.
But there's no need to despair – there are things you can do to keep your acid reflux under control in the office. In this post, we'll discuss a few tips that can help keep your stomach happy and healthy at work.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Normally, when you eat or drink, the food and liquid travel down your esophagus and into your stomach. The stomach is lined with a strong muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which acts like a one-way valve. The LES relaxes to allow food and liquid into the stomach and then contracts to keep the contents in the stomach from flowing back up into the esophagus. However, if the LES is weak or relaxed at the wrong time, stomach contents can leak back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux.
While occasional acid reflux is normal, persistent acid reflux can signify a more serious condition such as peptic ulcers.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
There are several possible causes of acid reflux, including:
Bad posture when Sitting and Sleeping after a meal
Dietary choices–some common foods that can trigger acid reflux include caffeine, chocolate, fatty foods, and acidic fruits.
Lifestyle choices–Smoking and drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of acid reflux.
Medical conditions such as peptic ulcers, obesity, and hiatal hernia can also contribute to the development of GERD.
Certain medications, such as iron supplements, some antibiotics, and beta-blockers, can cause the condition.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes of acid reflux, but it indicates some of the most common triggers.
How To Identify an Acid Reflux Attack
Some tell-tale signs that can help you identify an acid reflux attack include:
First and the most obvious, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest or throat. This is caused by the acid in your stomach coming up into your esophagus.
You may also experience a sour taste in your mouth from the acid.
Less-common symptoms, including coughing and wheezing
In some cases, acid reflux may even lead to nausea and vomiting.
In addition, you may have trouble swallowing or feel like food is stuck in your throat.
If you experience frequent or severe acid reflux symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other possible causes.
How To Prevent Acid Reflux
There are several things you can do to prevent or lessen the symptoms of acid reflux. These include:
Posture and Ergonomic Solutions
We all know that sitting for long periods is bad for our health. It can lead to a host of problems, including acid reflux. But sometimes, office work is very exhausting, and sitting is unavoidable.
When you have to sit, remember to do it right–avoid slouching at all costs.
When you sit hunched over or slouched, especially after a meal, your stomach, abdomen, and esophageal sphincter (LES) muscles are often under pressure and misaligned. This strains the LES muscle, which can leak small contents of the stomach into the esophagus, leading to acid reflux.
To correct this, it is important to always sit up straight and keep your spine aligned in a neutral position, not far forward or backward. This will allow the esophagus and stomach to be at a good angle, free of pressure, and maintain a straight path that doesn't impede the function of the LES muscle. Additionally, when your back is straight and aligned, gravity will work in your favor, helping to keep any acidic content where it belongs - in the stomach.
However, maintaining the perfect posture throughout the day is easier said than done. It’s something we all have to struggle with, but there are some simple things you can do that will make it easier, including:
1. Strengthening your core muscles can make a big difference when it comes to posture. By strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles, you'll find it easier to maintain an upright position without any feelings of fatigue. This can be done through various exercises, such as planks and pilates.
2. Look for an office chair that will keep you comfortable all day long. Always go for an ergonomic model that includes lumbar support. This support helps maintain the spine's natural curve and prevents strain on your lower back. Additionally, look for an office chair with adjustable features such as seat height and armrests. This way, you can customize the chair to fit your specific needs and ensure that you're sitting in the most comfortable position possible, thus encouraging proper posture.
3. Finally, if you're sitting for long periods, be sure to get up and move around regularly to stretch your muscles and give your body a break. Every 20 minutes or so should suffice.
Also, investing in a sit-stand desk may be a good idea if you're looking for a way to improve your health while working at your desk. Interchanging between sitting and standing throughout the day is an ideal solution, and using a sit-stand desk makes it easy to do so.
In addition to improving your overall health, standing while working can also help reduce acid reflux symptoms. Gravity helps to keep stomach contents down when you're upright, so standing may help to prevent acid reflux episodes.
Do Not Lie Down Immediately After Eating
Most people are familiar with that post-meal feeling of being ready to relax and maybe even take a nap. What many people don't realize, however, is that lying down immediately after eating can lead to some undesirable side effects. For example, lying down can trigger symptoms in people who suffer from acid reflux. This is because gravity isn't working in your favor when you lie down, and stomach acid can come up.
Many acid reflux sufferers also find their symptoms worse at night, as lying down immediately after a meal can lead to sluggish digestion. Sluggish digestion is the cause of several gastrointestinal problems, which can cause pressure and other issues to the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle, ultimately leading to acid reflux.
To avoid these problems, experts recommend waiting at least three hours after eating or drinking before lying down. Or, if you must lie down sooner, prop your head and torso up (6-8 inches) to lessen the chance of acid coming up. The best way to do this is with an adjustable bed, which allows you to adjust the angle of the bed to what's comfortable for you.
However, if you don't have an adjustable bed, there are still ways to prop yourself up. Pillows are a good option, or you can use anything lightweight and easy to move, like foam blocks. Although, pillows and Foam blocks are not the best option, as they don’t offer uniform support.
Your Clothes Shouldn't Fit Like a Glove
Tight belts, waistbands, and other constricting clothing, especially around the waist, can put extra pressure on the stomach and contribute to reflux. In addition, certain fabrics (such as polyester) can exacerbate symptoms by trapping heat and moisture. For these reasons, it's important to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes, especially when you're at risk for reflux. Instead, opt for loose-fitting garments made from breathable fabrics. This will help to keep your stomach contents where they belong and prevent uncomfortable symptoms.
Avoid Trigger Foods
Food is obviously the main trigger of acid reflux, but did you know that there are certain types of food that are more likely to trigger your symptoms? Some trigger foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and others increase stomach acid production.
Common trigger foods include spicy or fatty foods, dairy products, mint, tomato-based products, citrus fruits, and carbonated or acidic drinks. If you eat any of these foods regularly, you should try eliminating them to see if doing so helps reduce your symptoms of acid reflux. In addition, drink plenty of water. Dehydration can trigger acid reflux, so it's important to stay hydrated. Also, avoid carbonated and acidic drinks like alcohol, soda, coffee, and tea. These beverages can increase the amount of stomach acid in your system and make your symptoms worse.
Try Out Some Natural Remedies
One simple remedy is drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or baking soda. This mixture helps to neutralize stomach acid and can provide relief from heartburn and indigestion. Simply mix one teaspoon of baking soda or apple cider with eight ounces of water and drink it when you start to experience symptoms. Another effective remedy is to eat a handful of almonds after every meal.
Chewing gum after meals can also help reduce acid reflux symptoms. The act of chewing gum encourages saliva production, which helps to neutralize stomach acid.
There are also many over-the-counter medications that can help relieve acid reflux symptoms, such as antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. However, these medications should only be used as a last resort, as they can have side effects such as constipation and diarrhea.
And if the symptoms of acid reflux persist, it is important to see a doctor, as it may be a sign of a more serious condition.