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Some tips for preventing acid reflux

Dr. Lawrence Cohen, a specialist in gastroenterology, puts up a poster depicting the human gastrointestinal tract at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto on Thursday, August 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

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Dr. Lawrence Cohen, a specialist in gastroenterology, puts up a poster depicting the human gastrointestinal tract at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto on Thursday, August 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Here are some tips for preventing gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD:

—Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach and causing acid to back up into the esophagus.

—Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around the waist put pressure on the abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.

—Avoid foods and drinks that cause heartburn. Common triggers include fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion and caffeine.

—Eat smaller meals and avoid eating late in the evening.

—Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed.

—Elevate the head. If heartburn often occurs at night or while trying to sleep, use wooden blocks under the bed's feet to raise the head of the bed 15 to 25 centimetres. Or insert a wedge between the mattress and box spring to elevate the body from the waist up. Wedges are available at drugstores and medical supply stores. Don't raise your head with extra pillows — that can make acid reflux worse.

—Avoid tobacco. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.

Source: Mayo Clinic.

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