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Breathing Exercises for GERD

Breathing Exercises for GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be uncomfortable, painful and can even lead to more serious conditions if not treated properly including:

  • Esophageal ulcer
  • Narrowing of the esophagus
  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer

To avoid the potential complications associated with GERD it is important to seek treatment for your symptoms. Generally treatment for GERD involves over the counter medications such as antacids, prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers and lifestyle changes. Sometimes, home remedies such as aloe, slippery elm, chewing gum or licorice are said to be beneficial and can also be used to relieve symptoms.
Another method for treatment (in collaboration with any medications) of GERD that is often used are breathing exercises. These breathing exercises are focused on strengthening the diaphragm. This practice is said to reduce the amount of acid exposure in the esophagus.
In a recent study, researchers had two groups of individuals who suffer from GERD. The one group practiced the breathing exercises in addition to their current GERD treatment and the second group continued with only their current treatment.
The breathing exercise practiced was deep abdominal breathing that uses diaphragmatic contractions. This is a technique often used by professional singers and performers.
This type of breathing practice focuses on:

  • The air coming in from your nose fully filling your lungs
  • The expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest

Diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial because:

  • Strengthens the diaphragm
  • Decreases the work of breathing
  • Decreases oxygen demand
  • Uses less energy and effort

The participants involved in the study practiced this style of breathing for 30 minutes daily for four weeks. After the study concluded it was noted that there was in fact, a decrease in acid exposure in those who practiced diaphragmatic breathing and relief in persistent symptoms.
If you suffer from GERD and want to enhance your symptom relief, you may want to try breathing exercises. One easy way to begin is by placing your hand just below your rib cage, with the other over your chest. Then, breathe in deeply through your nose. Once you inhale, the goal is to feel your stomach expand while your chest remains as still as possible. You should be able to feel your diaphragm as it expands. Tighten your stomach muscles as you exhale through pursed lips.
This practice could help relieve your symptoms of GERD and prevent harmful complications from occurring. If your GERD symptoms persist or worsen you may want to consult your doctor about other treatment options such as reflux surgery.


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