If your voice is a little hoarse or you have a sore throat, it could be your body’s response to a cold or the flu. But if you’ve had these symptoms for a while, it might not be a virus.
Instead, it could be acid reflux.
Acid reflux is the result of a malfunctioning esophageal sphincter, which is essentially a valve between the esophagus and stomach. Its job is to allow food and drink to pass down into the stomach, keep it there, and digest in stomach acid.
When it doesn’t work properly, it allows that acid back up into the esophagus.
If you’ve been having repeated bouts of acid reflux, commonly known as heartburn, you can try these tips instead of relying on medication.
Eat a little less, more frequently, at a slower pace: A full stomach increases the risk that acid will creep back up into the esophagus. Instead of big meals, try grazing with small amounts of food during the day. When eating larger meals, eat slowly.
Watch what you eat: Some foods can trigger acid reflux. Mint, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomato, onion, garlic, coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol can all lead to reflux. If you have any of them regularly, try eliminating them and then re-introducing them one by one.
Avoid carbonated beverages: Carbonated beverages, like soda and sparkling water, can make you burp, which sends acid into the esophagus.
Stay up after eating: When you stand or even sit, gravity can help keep acid in the stomach. When you lie down, it can creep back up. Avoid lying down for three hours after eating.
Don’t move too fast: Avoid vigorous movement for a couple of hours after eating. A leisurely walk is fine, but a strenuous workout or something involving bending, like yoga, may encourage acid to move back up.
Lose weight: More body fat spreads out the muscle that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, which reduces the pressure that holds the sphincter closed.
If these adjustments don’t work, or if you are having an increasingly difficult or painful time swallowing, speak with your doctor about treatment options.