Have you ever experienced a burning sensation in your chest after a meal? The contents of your stomach seem to take a detour and travel upward into the esophagus.
This condition is called acid reflux and affects many people. Can relaxation help acid reflux? This page takes a closer look to determine just that.
What are the signs and symptoms of acid reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when contents from the stomach travel upwards toward the esophagus. The most common medical terms for acid reflux are GER and heartburn.
Symptoms of acid reflux or GER may include the following:
- burning sensation in the chest, usually after a meal
- difficulty/painful breathing
What is the difference between acid reflux and Gerd?
When acid reflux happens repeatedly and over long periods, it could lead to GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). There are some slight differences in symptoms between the two. It is not uncommon for some GERD sufferers to experience complications outside the esophagus, especially in the lungs, throat, or mouth. Other symptoms include:
- chest pain
- chronic cough
- laryngitis (loss of voice)
- deterioration of tooth enamel
What are some of the major causes of GERD?
Some of the leading causes of GERD include:
- weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter
- certain medications *
- some people with hiatal hernia (a condition in which the upper part of the stomach pushes upward into the chest through an opening
Interesting acid reflux and GERD facts
Acid reflux is common in people over 50 years old and older but can affect any adult; of any race, and any gender.
Episodes of acid reflux can last up to a few months in some people.
Almost 60 million US adults suffer from acid reflux.
Anyone can develop GERD, especially those taking certain medications such as calcium channel blockers (for high blood pressure), benzodiazepines (sedatives that keep you calm or make you tired), and certain asthma medications (theophylline, etc)
Lifestyle changes and acid reflux
Typically lifestyle changes can play a significant role in treating acid reflux.
Changes in diet such as avoiding trigger foods like:
- citrus fruits
- high-fat food sources
- spicy foods
- black tea
What to eat instead?
Foods high in fiber are ideal for acid reflux/GERD; other foods include:
- whole grains
- alkaline foods
- coconut water
- brown rice
- ginger tea
- vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers)
- fish and seafood
- non-citric foods (figs, peaches, papaya, bananas, watermelon)
If you are overweight; exercise can help you lose and control your weight. It can also be an effective tool to fight stress because stress can make acid reflux/GER and GERD worse.
3) Avoid tight-waisted clothing (wear loose clothing around your midsection if you´re experiencing acid reflux)
4) Make sure to get adequate sleep (be sure to elevate your head slightly)
5) Lifestyle behavioral changes (no smoking/alcoholic drinking)
6) Wait 3-4 hours after a meal to lie down
Relaxation promotes overall health and can significantly reduce symptoms of acid reflux and GERD. That is because relaxation especially, in the form of abdominal breathing, can help strengthen the diaphragm muscles around the lower esophageal sphincter.
8) Abdominal Breathing
An episode of acid reflux can occur within thirty minutes to an hour after a meal, and it intensifies when you lean over or lie down. Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing can help relieve symptoms. In this type of breathing, the stomach expands, and the chest does not rise.
Benefits of abdominal breathing
- may eliminate the harmful effects of stress on your body
- may lower heart rate
- lower blood pressure
- may improve core muscle stability
- may reduce the chances of injury to muscles
- a slow rate of breathing exerts less energy
If you suffer from a lung condition like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or asthma, please consult a physician before doing belly breathing exercises.
How to do belly breathing exercises
- Find a quiet corner.
- Sit upright.
- Place one hand over your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Feel the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe through your nostrils.
- Tighten your stomach by gently and slowly contracting the abdominal muscles.
- Exhale through your mouth.
Repeat for 5 minutes. You can do belly breathing twice a day if possible.
Acid reflux/GER and GERD (frequent episodes of acid reflux can develop into GERD) affect several people today. Stress aggravates episodes of both conditions.
However, there is hope. Lifestyle changes can drastically impact both conditions.
Changes in diet, exercise, behavioral lifestyle changes (no smoking/drinking), along with stress management techniques like belly/abdominal breathing can help eliminate episodes.
Speak to a professional if you are suffering from GERD and it doesn´t seem to let up. Medical treatment may be necessary for some people.
If left untreated, GERD can develop into worse conditions such as:
- Esophagitis (inflammation in the esophagus which can, in turn, lead to ulcers and bleeding in the esophageal lining)
- Esophageal stricture: (occurs when the esophagus becomes narrow. Which can cause problems with swallowing)
- Barrett´s esophagus: (a condition in which tissue similar to those of the intestinal lining replaces esophagus tissue lining.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. Please see our full Medical Disclosure on our site.
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6 thoughts on “Can relaxation help acid reflux?”
Your post is very useful and informative. I have learned a lot from it.
Relaxation can help acid reflux. Proper diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and lifestyle changes make a lot of difference in eliminating acid reflux.
Keep up the good work! I´m looking forward to more posts from you! Thanks for sharing the article on acid reflux and GERD!
Thank you for reaching out to us. We value your time and contribution.
Our goal is to stress the importance of relaxation, especially in the 21st century. Your health and well-being depend on frequent relaxation techniques like breathing techniques, Meditation, Visualization, body scanning techniques, and others.
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That is an excellent post; thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it and learned a lot about acid reflux and Gerd.
I haven’t heard about it before, and glad I found it in your post—great examples of diet, and looking forward to trying new things. I enjoyed reading it. Have a great day.
Thanks for reaching out. Thank you for the compliment.
I´ve had friends who suffered from acid reflux, and some cases were worse off than others, but they got the treatment they needed, changed their lifestyles, and saw vast improvements.
Don´t forget to check in with us as we post new weekly articles.
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Great article! I suffered from acid reflux before.
Sometimes, I would experience heart attack-like symptoms as the acid effect makes you experience chest tightness and discomfort.
There was a time when I fainted while having breakfast and was brought to the ER, and found out that nothing was wrong with me.
Acid reflux is a serious thing. It can change your life if you allow it. I agree with what you have presented in your article about diet, exercise, relaxation, and abdominal breathing would definitely resolve the acid reflux problem because I did all that, and now I am back to my usual healthy life!
We control how to be healthy. And it requires a lot of work and discipline. But in the long run, it is worth it! Thank you for this article. It will surely help a lot of people!
Hey Maria Teresa,
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. So happy you are doing better now.
It is so easy to get stuck in the rat race of life that we don´t take the time we need to recover and relax. Our health depends on this.
I believe we should have weekly relaxation routines. Breathing exercises are instant and effective, and you can do them anywhere.
There are many other possibilities, such as yoga, meditation, visualization, journaling, aromatherapy, and more. Thanks for stopping by. We just posted Best 19 Stress Relief Products | Elevate Healthy Lifestyle Choices