Have a long flight to your travel destination? For many of us, air traveling is stressful to begin with. From waiting in long queues at check-in and security and immigration gates to changing time zones, weather conditions and unreliable food stops, air travel can bring out the worst even in the best of us gerd.
If you are like many flyers, you pop a chewing gum in your mouth to prevent blocked ears, and you ask for a soda so you can relax and settle down into your seat. Right? Well, you’ve just set yourself up for heartburn.
Carbonated drinks are your worst enemy on a long flight. All that fizz will only make you feel bloated and result in unwanted belching because altitude causes gas in your stomach to expand, adding to your discomfort. Chewing gum may help your ears pop, but it also makes you swallow more air, which also causes gastrointestinal distress (the only exception is chewing sugar-free gum). You’re better off asking the flight attendant for ear plugs and a glass of water.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Avoid pants with a restrictive waistband, as these exert extra pressure on the stomach and can cause stomach acid to rise through the esophagus.
Leave early from home to give yourself sufficient time to get to the airport and through security without feeling rushed. The rush can cause stress and bring about symptoms of heartburn.
Don’t fasten your seat belt too tightly. The belt should be snug but comfortable. If it’s too tight across your belly and chest, loosen it.
Air travel can dehydrate you because of the low humidity in the cabin. Drink plain water and avoid carbonated beverages and beer. If you’re drinking juice, avoid any citrus juice, as these can trigger heartburn. Apple juice is a good option.
While you may be stuck with airline food on the plane, avoid any of your heartburn triggers, especially foods that cause gas and bloating. Steer clear of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and baked beans. In fact, it’s best to avoid all raw veggies and eat only cooked foods.
Avoid chewing gum and hard candies. To be on the safer side, its best to carry your own snacks on flights. Single-serving packs of GERD-friendly snacks are easy to carry in Ziploc packs, and will keep you comfortable throughout your flight. Remember, missing meals and staying hungry also exacerbates acid reflux symptoms.
Eat slowly. Drinking and eating too quickly will exert extra pressure on your stomach.
If you’re on a short flight, it may be better to eat a GERD-friendly meal before you board your flight or after you land at your destination.
Forgot to pack your own snacks? Limit your intake of fatty foods, salty snacks and alcohol. Request for a cup of green tea that helps stimulate digestive enzymes instead.
Once the flight is in the air, try to walk around a little. This is more important for long flights where you’re crossing through time zones.
Jet lag and sleep deprivation on an overnight flight can also bring on heartburn. Try some natural sleep remedies, so that you can get some sleep on the plane. Remember to ask for extra pillows so that your head is propped up.
Air travel can be stressful, especially if you have to deal with missed connections or lost luggage. Be prepared. Keep a change of clothes and your essentials in your carry-on case, along with your heartburn medication.