12 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Acid Reflux

Following these steps can help reduce heartburn symptoms

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels up the esophagus. This can cause a burning sensation in your chest, commonly known as heartburn.

Heartburn and reflux can be occasional issues or chronic and ongoing problems. Longstanding frequent reflux irritates the lining of the esophagus, leading to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

This article discusses how to get rid of reflux acid. It provides 12 things you can do to prevent acid reflux attacks.

Healthy low fat pita dip for acid reflux
Pixel Stories / Stocksy United

What Causes Reflux?

Reflux occurs when stomach acid or stomach content flows backward into your esophagus, causing heartburn.

Heartburn is generally a treatable problem. Most of the time, people can manage their symptoms with lifestyle and diet modification. Also, over-the-counter medications can help reduce symptoms.

Some people need stronger treatment or even surgical procedures to overcome chronic heartburn.

Although reflux is considered a treatable disease, inappropriate treatment can cause severe complications in the long term. If you experience symptoms of acid reflux, consult with a doctor first to get an accurate diagnosis and receive adequate treatment. 

To adjust your lifestyle toward preventing reflux, use "The Rule of Fours": four key points to follow during the day, during meals, and after your meal.

Four Things to Do Throughout the Day

  1. Stay active: Try to stick to an exercise routine. Although it may be tough to fit in the time for working out, it is definitely worth it. Weight loss mitigates reflux symptoms.
  2. Do not smoke: An underlying cause of reflux is the weakness of the muscles in the stomach and esophagus. Nicotine can cause this weakness. Try to avoid secondhand smoke at parties and other events if possible.
  3. Do not eat late at night: This may be difficult if you're a night owl or go to social gatherings that run late, but try to avoid heavy foods after dinner and instead choose small, light snacks.
  4. Limit your alcohol intake: Whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work, any alcohol can worsen reflux.

Four Things to Do While Eating

  1. Avoid fatty foods: Foods such as chips, dips, cheeses, and deep-fried foods slow down your stomach emptying time. This allows more acid and stomach contents to flow back into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
  2. Hydrate with water: Drink water instead of soda or juices like grapefruit, orange, and tomato. These types of drinks cause excess acid in your stomach.
  3. Season lightly: Spicy foods and things like onions and garlic often bother people with GERD and make heartburn worse.
  4. Use smaller plates: Eating large meals can trigger symptoms, so try eating smaller meals throughout the day.

Four Things to Do After Eating

  1. Limit coffee and desserts: Chocolate and caffeine might be a favorite, but they often trigger symptoms.
  2. Slow down: Physical exertion after a meal can lead to reflux.
  3. Skip the after-dinner mint: Peppermint is another heartburn irritant.
  4. Stay awake: Eating delicious food might make you sleepy, but fight the urge to take a nap. Lying down within three hours after eating can cause acid reflux symptoms to flare up.

With these small changes, you can help your heartburn even if you suffer from GERD. Remember The Rule of Fours, and you will reduce or even eliminate your acid reflux.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is milk good for acid reflux?

    It depends. Milk may seem like it would help cool down heartburn, but the fat in dairy products can aggravate acid reflux. There is no evidence to support any dairy product helping to ease acid reflux. Fat-free or skim milk shouldn't make it worse.

  • Is water good for acid reflux?

    Yes and no. Water is essential for good digestion, among other things. Drinking water can help overall with preventing acid reflux, but it is unlikely to quell heartburn pain in the moment.

  • When is acid reflux serious?

    Sometimes what you think is heartburn may be something more serious, like a heart attack. Both can cause a burning chest pain that can radiate to your neck, throat, or jaw. 

    Heartburn typically also involves indigestion and burping, which may relieve the pain. 

    Signs that could be a heart attack and should not be ignored include:

    • Discomfort radiating to one or both arms or shoulders
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • Pain, pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sweating

    If you suspect you are having a heart attack, seek immediate medical help. 

  • What medication can I take for heartburn?

    Over-the-counter heartburn medications include antacids, histamine-2 (H2) blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). 

    Antacids include Tums, Rolaids, and Mylanta. H2 blockers include Tagamet HB (cimetidine), Pepcid Complete or Pepcid AC (famotidine), and Axid AR (nizatidine). PPIs include Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole), Nexium 24HR (esomeprazole), Prilosec OTC (omeprazole magnesium), and Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate).

  • How do you get rid of acid reflux during pregnancy?

    Heartburn is a common complaint during pregnancy. In addition to the growing uterus and baby taking up more space, pregnancy-related heartburn is caused by fluctuating hormone levels that slow digestion and relax the lower esophageal sphincter. 

    To prevent heartburn during pregnancy, try the following:

    • Avoid foods that are fatty, fried, or spicy
    • Do not eat citrus fruit or drink juice
    • Don’t eat late at night
    • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
    • Stay upright after meals
    • Steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, and smoking 

    Talk to your obstetrician about over-the-counter medications you can take to relieve heartburn during pregnancy.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. GERD (chronic acid reflux).

  2. Ness-Jensen E, Hveem K, El-serag H, Lagergren J. Lifestyle intervention in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14(2):175-82.e1-3. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2015.04.176

  3. American Heart Association. Heartburn or heart attack?

  4. American Heart Association. Warning signs of a heart attack.

  5. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn treatment.

Additional Reading
  • Jacques AS, The week of Thanksgiving is also Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week. MDLinx.

By Kenneth Brown, MD
Kenneth Brown, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist specializing in digestive health, including irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer screening, and GERD.