10 Benefits of Getting Rid of Acid Reflux - dummies

10 Benefits of Getting Rid of Acid Reflux

By Patricia Raymond, Michelle Beaver

As you know, getting rid of acid reflux has many benefits. Some are directly related to the elimination of reflux symptoms, while others are secondary benefits that stem from reflux-reduction efforts (for instance, you may lose weight). Some benefits impact physical health, while others impact quality of life. All are important.

A good night’s sleep

The most common complaint from reflux patients pertains to how the reflux messes with sleep. Whether it’s preventing you from falling asleep, waking you up, or just making you uncomfortable, reflux can be the nemesis of a good night’s sleep.

The fact that most people eat their largest meal of the day at dinner is just one factor that plays a part here. Lying down is another. When you lie down, this position removes gravity from the battle and makes it easier for your stomach’s contents to enter your esophagus. Whatever the cause, acid reflux can turn a night’s rest into a nightmare.

With sleep playing such a vital role in so many aspects of life, it’s clear that eliminating reflux and improving sleep is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

Better overall health

Many of the dietary changes recommended for the treatment of reflux will also have a positive effect on your overall health. One of the most notorious dietary culprits associated with reflux is high-fat food. Next to smoking, high-fat diets are the most lethal personal habit, contributing to an estimated 300,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.

When you have reflux, doctors also recommend minimizing alcohol intake and quitting tobacco as well. It may not seem like fun, but reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking as part of your reflux attack plan will reduce your risk for serious conditions like heart disease and cancer, while helping put a cap on your reflux as well.

Bottom line: When you make the lifestyle changes that your doctor recommends to reduce your reflux symptoms, your body will benefit in all kinds of other ways, too!

Goodbye heartburn

An even more important benefit for many patients is the elimination of the chronic pain associated with reflux. As anyone who has dealt with chronic pain can attest, there’s nothing fun about daily discomfort. For many people with acid reflux, chronic pain becomes a part of the package.

Often it’s associated with heartburn, but it can also result from other complications associated with reflux, such as a sore throat or an esophageal stricture. Regardless of the cause, chronic pain can affect everything from your physical ability to overall happiness.

A clearer mind

Getting rid of reflux can also have a positive impact on cognitive abilities. The interrupted sleep and pain associated with reflux can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to concentrate and think clearly. Dealing with reflux on a regular basis could affect grades, relationships, or job performance. Plus, dealing with the hallmarks of acid reflux (such as chronic heartburn, loss of sleep, and poor diet) also improve mental abilities.

A brighter disposition

It’s not just mental capabilities that can be affected; it’s also your attitude and emotions. Even the brightest disposition can be worn down by years of chronic heartburn, insufficient sleep, and other complications associated with reflux. It’s hard to be happy and enjoy life when you’re exhausted from battling reflux.

And it’s not only your mood that will be affected, it’s the moods of all those around you. As anyone who has ever dealt with a teenager knows, tired and cranky people can bring everyone down. Reflux can make you moody, hostile, or even depressed. You can hardly be blamed for being a little grouchy after a few hours of really bad heartburn or a night of restless tossing and turning.

Less stress

Having to carry the burden of acid reflux on a daily basis can be draining. For many people, reflux has an impact on their day-to-day activities. It doesn’t just impact what they eat or drink; it also affects what they can and can’t do. All of this worrying equals stress.

Decreasing stress literally changes the chemistry of your body. By having fewer things to worry about, your body will produce fewer stress hormones, such as cortisol. With fewer of these hormones, your heart rate will be healthier, you’ll digest food better, feel calmer and happier, and be less prone to illness.

Fewer doctor visits

Many of the lifestyle changes required to manage acid reflux are beneficial for overall health. A well-balanced diet will ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients and energy it needs, which may give you fewer reasons to visit the doctor.

Tame the flame, stop the inflammation

If you have asthma, chronic cough, and chronic sore throat, eliminating reflux is particularly important. A direct link between asthma and acid reflux hasn’t been proven, but evidence suggests that reflux can trigger or worsen asthma attacks.

People who complain of chronic coughs or sore throats often are diagnosed with acid reflux. If reflux is the reason for your inflammation and discomfort, reducing or eliminating reflux can mean saying bye-bye to your cough or sore throat.

Reduced risk for cancer

By eliminating reflux, you can significantly reduce your risk for developing serious medical conditions. One of the most serious conditions associated with acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is altered for the worse.

As if Barrett’s weren’t scary enough on its own, it can occasionally lead to esophageal cancer. In fact, your risk for developing esophageal cancer goes up every year you have Barrett’s.

Show me the money!

The final place you’ll see a benefit of an acid-free life is in your wallet. If you’ve been battling acid reflux for very long, you know that the battle is rarely free. Whether your reflux is minor enough to be treated with the occasional antacid, or you have to shell out for prescription meds on a monthly basis, there’s a cost to fighting reflux.