With occasional acid reflux, lifestyle changes, including eating smaller meals, losing weight and avoiding foods that trigger heartburn help to prevent the symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. If necessary, over-the-counter medication can be helpful.
Heartburn triggers can include spicy foods, high-acid foods, peppermint and high-fat meals, according to WebMD. A food diary is often helpful in identifying the foods that cause a patient discomfort. Tobacco, alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeine are also potential triggers. Lying down immediately after a meal makes it more likely for the stomach contents to enter the esophagus. A better choice is to remain upright in a chair after a meal. If nighttime acid reflux is a problem, elevating the head of the bed may alleviate the symptoms.
Many people confuse acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease. While they are related, Mayo Clinic indicates they are not the same. Acid reflux is an occasional backward flow of the stomach contents that causes a sour taste in the mouth or burning sensation in the chest. GERD is a more serious reflux problem and causes heartburn that is more frequent.
Heartburn that occurs more than two times per week is likely GERD, reports WebMD. If lifestyle changes and medication fail to stop GERD symptoms, patients sometimes require surgery; however, doctors usually reserve this option as a last resort.