Acid reflux is more than just heartburn and a burning throat. The acid that enters the esophagus also damages the lining, resulting in inflammation and damage. Untreated damage to the esophagus eventually leads to Barrett's esophagus, a serious condition that can be precancerous. To avoid health complications, treating and healing damage to the esophagus is important, as is preventing further damage.
Try a diet change. Avoid foods that cause excess acid production such as chocolate, tomatoes, coffee, spicy foods and citrus fruits. Fatty foods also increase acid production, so avoid them when possible. To reduce acid production, eat a diet with complex carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal and pasta. They bind to stomach acid, preventing it from pushing up into the esophagus.
Look at unhealthy habits. Caffeine and nicotine both cause extra acid production in the stomach. Alcohol consumption not only increases acid production, it also relaxes the sphincter at the opening of the esophagus. This allows more acid to enter the esophagus to further damage it.
Lose weight. Extra weight adds pressure to the stomach, which pushes stomach acid up. This results in acid in the esophagus and resulting damage.
Think small. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Less food in the stomach takes up less volume. The amount of acid in the stomach relates to the amount of food. If the acid levels stay low, it lessens the chance of it flowing up into the esophagus.
Use medication. Once damaged, the esophagus needs more than just traditional home remedies. A healthy lifestyle works to prevent future damage, but the past damage still exists. Over-the-counter medicines such as antacids and oral suspension medications work the same way, preventing more damage. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) work to prevent damage and heal any past damage. Prilosec is the only PPI available without a prescription. Most doctors use prescription strength PPIs to treat past damage in stronger doses than Prilosec.