Acid reflux symptoms often worsen in winter, but why? And what is the best treatment for acid reflux?
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common health concern in the UK. In fact, acid reflux is 50% more common than it was 10 years ago, and around a quarter will experience weekly symptoms.
Acid reflux can be diagnosed as when acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus, resulting in heartburn, an unpleasant sour taste and possibly nausea. A lot of people who do suffer from acid reflux often find that their symptoms worsen during the winter months.
So why is your acid reflux worse in the winter? And what can be done to lessen your symptoms?
Why is your acid reflux worse in winter?
Understanding more about acid reflux as a condition is the best way to understand why it tends to worsen over the winter months. By gaining a clearer understanding of the causes of winter acid reflux, you are one step closer to finding the best treatment for acid reflux and heartburn.
1. Less vitamin D
We spend less time outside in the winter, meaning we don't get as much access to vitamin D as we're used to. Lack of vitamin D can cause your oesophageal splinter (LES) to relax, making it easier for food and acid to enter the oesophagus. This directly links to symptoms of acid reflux.
2. More time in bed
Gravity has a part to play in the symptoms of acid reflux, as stomach acid is more likely to leak into the oesophagus when you are not standing or sitting upright. So, in winter, when we tend to be less physically active and spend more time in bed or slouching on the sofa, symptoms can worsen. Sleeping with a pillow propping up your upper back can help reduce acid reflux.
3. Too much comfort food
As well as being less active in winter, UK adults also tend to follow a less healthy diet too. Taking comfort from the cold with hot, fatty-rich foods is common in winter, but those prone to acid reflux can suffer as a result. This is because certain foods are known for causing heartburn, including, spicy foods, chocolate and coffee, can aggravate acid reflux symptoms — and these are often the foods we see as comforting.
4. Alcoholic Christmas cheer
In the run-up to Christmas, we are more likely to gorge on unhealthy food and alcoholic drinks than at any other time of year. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a few festive tipples, excessive alcohol intake can result in a significant increase in acid reflux symptoms during December. Alcohol is one of the main contributing factors in acid reflux, as it is itself acidic.
What is the best treatment for acid reflux?
There are several different options available when it comes to finding the best treatment for acid reflux. Sometimes, it is a case of implementing certain lifestyle changes into your routine which helps to reduce symptoms of the conditions. These work particularly well in terms of preventing acid reflux, but in terms of finding the best treatment for acid reflux, it may be that effective medication is required.
How to prevent acid reflux
There are many things which you can do to prevent the onset of acid reflux, particularly in winter:
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Eat fatty foods in moderation
- Exercise more
- Spend more time outdoors
- Raise your head by 10 to 20cm when sleeping
Lifestyle changes to prevent or improve acid reflux can include simply enjoying certain things in moderation, like alcohol and fatty foods. To put it simply, don’t consume substances which trigger your acid reflux in excess.
Increasing your level of physical activity can also reduce your chances of suffering acid reflux symptoms, especially if you are currently overweight and are using exercise to reduce your excess weight. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, consider incorporating winter walks into your exercise routine.
You can also raise one end of your bed by 10 to 20cm to prevent stomach acid from travelling towards your throat.
How to treat acid reflux
Acid reflux medication is an effective and efficient form of GERD treatment. There are several treatments available from Express Pharmacy, including Omeprazole 20mg and Lansoprazole 15mg — both of which are established and tested medications for treating acid reflux symptoms. If you are unsure as to what treatment to go for, you can view our Omeprazole and Lansoprazole comparison guide. So don’t suffer this winter, find the right treatment for your condition today.
For help, information and treatment for any healthcare concerns you have this winter, contact Express Pharmacy. Call us on 0208 123 0703 or browse our acid reflux treatments today.
Article updated December 2020