Establish traveling routines with an eye toward prevention.
According to Maryville University, tertiary prevention, or preventing the worsening of an existing disease, “is the focus of most of today’s medical care.” For GERD patients, this is especially important, as preventative care can mean the difference between mild and more severe symptoms. The majority of preventative care measures for GERD require changes in either lifestyle or diet, but are quite manageable when they are made part of a normal routine.
However, when this routine is interrupted, it can make these changes harder to maintain. Among the factors that can cause such an interruption, one of the most common is travel. However, if approached the right way, you can reduce these interruptions to your preventative care routine, even while traveling.
For patients that suffer from frequent nighttime reflux episodes, the best way to reduce discomfort and enjoy uninterrupted sleep is by raising the head of their bed by six to eight inches. When traveling, it may seem difficult to maintain this routine. After all, most hotel beds are not exactly designed to have their height easily adjusted. Fortunately, this does not mean that GERD patients have to accept a fate of uncomfortable, sleepless nights due to reflux. Products like Travelwedge can help in sleeping with your head elevated while traveling.
When traveling, it can be much more difficult to control when and what you eat. You are much more likely to go out to eat, especially at a restaurant that is unfamiliar. Without knowing what GERD-friendly food options are available beforehand, it can seem overwhelming to make the correct choices to minimize GERD symptoms.
It is also harder to control your eating schedule while traveling. Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day is more difficult. Large meals put extra pressure on the valve between the stomach and the esophagus.
Eating at Meetings
Work travel can make things worse because you’re faced with these meeting situations:
- sitting for long periods of time
- not being able to eat small meals frequently
- having no GERD-friendly food options
These situations mean you have little to no control of where, when or what eat.
To avoid these issues, research your destination and plan in advance. In researching, look for local restaurants to identify items on their menu fitting in your GERD-friendly diet. It’s always fun to try out a new city’s hot food joints, but you should also take note of familiar national chains where you already know the best options. This way, you can feel confident about eating while in an unfamiliar place without suffering the GERD consequences.
In other situations, where you may not have the same control, remember that GERD is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you feel comfortable with the people you are interacting with, explain your situation. Then, ask where you might be going out to eat, to research their menu. If you do not want to specifically explain your GERD to them, simply say you have dietary restrictions that you need to avoid.
The same goes for a tight schedule with little time to eat throughout the day. Explain to those you are with that you have specific dietary requirements, and you need to take a moment to eat something small at a few times during the day. People are generally understanding, and will be more than happy to accommodate your needs.
By taking these precautions, you can overcome the obstacles that traveling presents when controlling your GERD symptoms. Traveling can make it difficult to do things like sleep with your head elevated or stick to your GERD-friendly diet. However, just because you are away from your normal routine does not mean that you have to suffer. By taking the necessary steps to prepare and adjust, you can continue to be triumphant over GERD, even away from home.
Debbie Donovan is in the marketing department and has a very short list of foods she won’t eat. She’s also managing the GERDHelp social media channels where we post hot stories on heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. Her relatives hail from Ireland, Italy, Austria (Jewish); she’s also a big fan of all types of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.