What is Reflux Esophagitis?
Reflux Esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus (swallowing tube) caused by acid which spills back up from the stomach into the esophagus, irritating it. It can cause heartburn, painful swallowing and even permanent damage to the esophagus.
How can we treat Reflux Esophagitis? Treatment of reflux esophagitis involves healing the damaged esophagus as well as preventing further damage to it. The goal is to keep stomach acid and other irritating substances out of the esophagus. The lifestyle changes below help prevent stomach acid from damaging your esophagus and allow it to heal and remain healthy. You may not get immediate relief, but don’t give up! Continue the therapy and give it time to work. REMEMBER THAT THESE ARE PERMANENT, NOT TEMPORARY MEASURES. You need to continue them even after your symptoms improve.
- Certain foods (peppermints, chocolates, citrus fruits, tomato products, very spicy, greasy or fried foods, coffee, carbonated and caffeinated beverages, alcohol) irritate the esophagus and relax the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, allowing acid to spill into esophagus. Avoid the foods which bring on heartburn, pain or related symptoms.
- Avoid eating large meals. Instead eat smaller, more frequent meals. Don’t stuff yourself. An overfilled stomach tends to overflow, spilling irritating acid into the esophagus.
- Do not lie down flat for at least 2 hours after meals. Standing up and even taking a leisure walk after meals may also help.
- Avoid wearing tight fitting garments; i.e. girdles, abdominal binders, tight pants, etc. Tight garments may push acid from the stomach up into your esophagus.
- If you smoke, stop! Smoking allows stomach contents, including stomach acid, to spill back into the esophagus more easily. It may also slow healing.
- Maintain your ideal weight. This may help reduce pressure on your stomach.
- If possible, avoid aspirin and medications such as ibuprofen, Aleve® and Motrin®.
- Sleep with the head of the bed elevated 4 to 6 inches. Risers can be purchased or bricks can be used to elevate the head of the bed. Using extra pillows is not a substitute for bed risers.
- Antacids (Maalox TC, Gelusil, etc.) should be taken after meals and at bedtime and when symptoms occur. The usual dose is 2 Tablespoons. Liquids generally work better than tablets, but tablets may be used if desired.