If you suffer from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may frequently encounter people who don’t understand just how much the symptoms of acid reflux affect your daily life. Many people think that reflux is “just” heartburn. They don’t understand the wide variety of other symptoms reflux produces and the serious impact these can have on everyday activities that most people don’t think twice about.
Here are just a few of the ways reflux is ruining your life (feel free to share this with those friends who just don’t understand!):
One: You can’t get a good night’s sleep
This is a big one. Pain from heartburn may make it difficult to fall asleep. And once you do fall asleep, you may not stay asleep. Acid may back up into the throat and larynx, causing you to wake up coughing and choking. No one wants to be woken from a dead sleep due to regurgitation, and this may happen multiple times a night!
Two: Your menu options are limited
When I go out to eat, my biggest dilemma is deciding which menu item sounds the most delicious. But if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, you don’t have the luxury of so much choice. Many foods can trigger a flare-up of acid reflux symptoms, including citrus, chocolate, fatty and fried foods, spicy foods, and tomato-based foods. Oh, and you should also avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, and coffee. Thank you, I’ll just have a water (sans lemon) and a salad please…
Three: It’s harder to stay in shape
“Studies have shown that exercise can increase reflux frequency.” Great. This means that if you suffer from reflux, you may need to limit the frequency, intensity, and duration of your work-out regimen. Also, you may have to avoid certain types of fitness activities including jogging, intensive cycling, and weight lifting. No spin class or cross-fit for you!
Four: Reflux is affecting your sex life
Let’s face it: the most common symptoms of acid reflux—heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia—aren’t sexy. (I personally find myself feeling at my least attractive when I feel like I might vomit at any minute.) Let’s not forget that chronic bad breath is another symptom of reflux as well. Even if you avoid all your triggers before engaging in sexual activity, the “activity” part may trigger your symptoms! Thankfully, there are some tips you can follow before, during, and after, that may reduce the likelihood of a ruined experience.
Five: Reflux is affecting your mental health
Think about all the areas we just discussed…sleep, diet, physical fitness, and sex life. Those are pretty significant parts of your life, and you may find yourself constantly worried about if, when, and how reflux will affect them. That’s enough to make anyone crazy. In fact, a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that “GERD is associated with anxiety and depression…psychological scores for neuroticism, anxiety and depression were higher in patients with GERD than in healthy controls.”
So, the next time someone minimizes your reflux, feel free to share this post with them…and remind yourself that you’re a champ. Keep up the good fight!