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Some thoughts on growing a business

If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next.



If a business stands still for too long then it ends up in a rut. Perhaps you’ve already achieved some level of success in your company, whether it’s a small business or a large organization. However, success can only be maintained if a company is willing to “change with the times”. Nothing remains the same in the world of business. The entire concept of selling commercialized goods to a consumer market is based on the idea of growth. People want newer and better versions of the things they already own if they’re going to part with their money. That’s why the businesses which remain on top have mastered the art of reinventing themselves over and over again. They might be selling identical or near-identical products to the things they were selling ten years ago, but the important thing is that they repackaged their service. They evolved.

You need to grow, in other words. If your business does something that brings an influx of new clients then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to keep that momentum going by figuring out what consumers want next. Your goal is to find a gap in the market and then find the next one. Once you’ve found a profitable solution to a consumer problem, every other company in your industry is going to copy what you did so that they can emulate your success. You might have some loyal clients who become accustomed to your goods and services, but your customers in the wider target market might simply choose whichever business is offering the cheapest or newest deal in your industry. That’s why you’ve got to stay on top of your game. Continuous growth is the key. And if you want to make that an integral part of your business then here are some thoughts on expanding your company.

Start investing to improve your business.

Your business can’t grow until you put something back into it. Maybe you started your company from the comfort of your home, or maybe you got a few friends together because you had a great idea. Whatever the case, your humble beginnings may have served you well in the early days, but there’s only so far you can get with limited resources and limited people. At some point, you’re going to need more employees, a bigger office, and other improvements that all cost money if you want your company to grow. You want to deliver a more extensive service to a wider client base, but that’s going to require some investment on your part.

However, if your company is still small and its profits can’t quite stretch to cover the necessary improvements you had in mind then perhaps you could look into alternative means of financing your next big business venture. You might even want to look into the property market to open up a new source of income that would fund the necessary business investments you had planned. You might want to check out this new launch property as a good place to start when trying to turn over a healthy profit outside your business. Property is a smart way to invest your excess funds. The point is that you need to find some way of funding business improvements. Investments are a necessary risk if your company is going to grow.

Become a more productive company.

One of the best ways to grow as a company is to increase your levels of productivity. And you can do that by putting the focus on your employees. Motivated people work harder, so you need to keep your workforce happy. You could give them incentives such as a bonus or a free lunch for working hard. You could even spruce up the office so as to create a more pleasant working environment. Above all else, you need to remember that your employees are people and they want to work for people. You create a much more loyal workforce when you demonstrate that you care about your workers as more than statistics or machines that keep your business running. You need to humanize yourself as the boss. That doesn’t mean you need to be friends with everybody in the office, as a professional relationship is still important if you want to ensure that you’re respected in the office. However, respect is a two-way street; you need to recognize the value of your workers. Your members of staff will be far more productive if they feel that they’re valued as individuals in a personal and a professional sense. The more productive they are, the great your company’s growth.

Of course, happy workers might still struggle to be as productive as possible if you don’t optimize the way in which they work. If you’re overloading your members of staff with too many different tasks to complete then you’re not putting their work hours to good use. You might want to make things easier for your employees by automating certain processes in the workplace. Repetitive tasks only waste precious hours of the day, but such tasks are also irritating for your members of staff. You can both make lives easier for members of your workforce and create a more productive work environment by automating certain administrative tasks that take up time during the day. If you let technology take control of generating invoices and other tasks then your workers will have more time to devote to the more technical aspects of their job roles. Your company will be more productive, and your employees will be happier.

Get ambitious with your marketing techniques.

You need to get ambitious with your marketing style if you want your business to grow. Use the internet to help you out; if you advertise a good enough deal then people will spread the word online for you. You could offer coupons and discounts to people who refer your business to your friends. You could also target new markets by offering incentives and deals to certain demographics. Perhaps you could offer 20% off your products to students in order to reel in a younger audience, for example. It all depends on the nature of your business, of course. The point is that incentivizing consumers with deals is a great way to spread the word about your business. If you use social media properly then people should share your posts and spread the word for you. And if they get discounts for doing so then they definitely will.

Connect with existing and potential customers.

We briefly discussed this in the point above. Impressing customers can be a marketing technique to spread the word about your business and increase your client base, but it can also be a way of making a direct connection with the target audience. This will help your business to grow because it’ll improve the reputation of your brand name. Excellent customer service is a good way to start with this, of course, but you can go deeper than that. You could send handwritten letters to clients as a way of thanking them; this requires more time and effort than an automated response. It’ll show your customers that you really value them.

You could even give away something valuable on your business’ website in order to entice people to try out your business before they spend any money. Again, it’s all about making a connection with the customer. The best way to do that is to give them something that you can afford to give away for free but which is very valuable to them. This will make them feel as if your business really cares about rewarding its clients. Plus, they’ll return to your business to buy more goods and services if they liked the initial freebie. If you make a real connection with your clients then your business will naturally start to grow.

Health & Wellness

One in five contract STI from somebody they met on a dating app

85% of 18-24 year olds have used dating apps. Unfortunately, of 2,000 respondents, 18% said they had caught an STI from someone they had met online.



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The sexual health risks for young adults are increasing through the use of dating websites and apps.

This is according to an original research by Zava, which found that 85% of 18-24 year olds have used dating apps. Unfortunately, of 2,000 respondents, 18% said they had caught an STI from someone they had met online, with chlamydia being the most common STI, with 10% of 18-24 year-olds catching the infection as a result of a meeting arranged through a dating app.

Interestingly, the rise in STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea ought to be linked to lower levels of sexual health education; but as per Zava’s research, the opposite is true, with almost two thirds saying they feel informed about STIs.

The study also noted that young adults in rural areas are more likely to have been diagnosed with an STI as a result of their online activity than those in urban areas. Also, people who identify as gay are also more likely to have contracted an STI, with a third of young gay people testing positive for a sexually transmitted infections after meeting a partner online.

38% of people with an STI found out about the infection by noticing the symptoms, particularly for common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea rather than being told by the person they caught it from. Healthcare professionals suggest this could be partly due to the practice of people deleting the profiles of their previous partners, so they can’t always inform them if they are diagnosed with an infection later on.

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As an FYI: The most popular dating app among the respondents was Tinder, with 70% having used it, way ahead of Bumble (6%), Grindr (4%), Happn (2%) and Hinge (1%).

In terms of STI testing, it seems that for young people, the decision to get tested isn’t related to public service advertising. Only 5% of the general population and 12% of people who identify as gay reported that public service advertisements were their primary reason for getting tested. Overall, people who identify as gay or bisexual are more likely to get tested for STIs (34% and 33% respectively) than their straight counterparts (28%).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Kathryn Basford of Zava, said: “Both gonorrhoea and chlamydia are bacterial infections that can have serious health consequences if they remain untreated. Prevention is much better than treatment, so we advise all young adults meeting people online to use a barrier contraceptive like condoms, femidoms, or dental dams. Not only can barrier contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies, unlike other forms of contraception they also reduce the risk of contracting an STI.”

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How tech is shaking up the retail investing scene

Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.



Retail investors used to have to make a stark choice. Either they bought and sold equities through a broker – somebody who would buy shares in companies on their behalf – or they’d pile all their capital into a mutual fund and wait. Without the internet, investors usually had to wait for their statements in the mail before they found out about the performance of their investments. It wasn’t always good news.

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Technology has changed all that. Retail investors now have information that is nearly as good as top hedge funds. Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.

Software Advisors

It was only a matter of time before somebody applied new artificial intelligence software to the retail investing scene. In the past, retail investors had to do their research if they wanted to understand how markets worked. Investing is a technical discipline, as well as an art, and an understanding of key terms is essential. But robo advisors take some of the edge off the otherwise steep learning curve. People new to finance can quickly get up to speed with all the relevant concepts and jargon. Robo advisors can give information about complicated investment plans, 401(k)s and many other things.

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Retail investors can also put their faith in machines too if they see fit. The world’s first AI-powered investment ETF launched last year. The ETF is a collection of funds managed by a computer based on all available data. The software takes data from the market to predict which firms will perform best over a 12-month horizon. So far, the software hasn’t convincingly beaten the market, but it’s early days.

Trading Apps

In the past, if you wanted to buy shares in a company, you had to physically visit your broker, give the order, and then get them to buy the shares on the open market. Things have moved on a lot since then. Thanks to smartphones, the average investor can now just fire up an app on their phone, place an order, and take ownership of shares on the same day. Apps are usually linked to major trading houses, so be careful which you choose

High-Frequency Trading Products

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The market is continually looking for new ways to create profit opportunities. A controversial method of doing this is the so-called high-frequency trading where an automated trading system makes dozens of trades per second. High-frequency trading is shaking up the retail investment scene because it is changing the strategy that regular traders should use.

Retail investors can either invest in funds that take advantage of automated, rapid trading or they can adopt a value-investing approach, ignoring all the short term fluctuations in the market. The good news is that there are now products that cater to both. Some funds use high-frequency trading, while others attempt to follow companies with value potential.

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Health & Wellness

Trans hormone therapy less risky than birth control pills, according to studies

A study suggests that hormone therapy for transgender people increases the risk of blood clots less than birth control pills and does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease at all.



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Studies published in the Men’s Health Issue of AACC’s journal Clinical Chemistry suggest that hormone therapy for transgender people increases the risk of blood clots less than birth control pills and does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease at all. These preliminary results could help more transgender individuals to access essential hormone therapy by increasing physician comfort with prescribing it.

Major medical associations agree that transgender individuals need to be able to express their gender in ways with which they feel comfortable and that this is the most effective treatment for psychological distress caused by incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender.

For many transgender individuals, expressing their gender involves physically changing their body through medical steps such as taking hormone therapy.

However, transgender patients often experience difficulty getting hormone therapy prescriptions, to the point that one in four transgender women have to resort to illegally obtaining cross-sex hormones. Part of this is because existing research on transgender hormone therapy is limited and conflicting, which has led to some physicians denying patients this treatment out of concern that it could significantly increase the risk of health problems such as blood clots and cardiovascular disease.

A team of researchers led by Dina N. Greene, PhD, of the University of Washington in Seattle in the US estimated that in transgender women prescribed estrogen, blood clots only occur at a rate of 2.3 per 1,000 person-years. While this is higher than the estimated incidence rate of blood clots in the general population (1.0-1.8 per 1,000 person-years), it is less than the estimated rate in premenopausal women taking oral contraceptives (3.5 per 1,000 person-years), which means that it is an acceptable level of risk.

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In order to determine this, Greene’s team performed a systematic review of all studies that have included the incidence rate of blood clots in transgender women receiving estrogen therapy, identifying 12 that were most relevant. The researchers then used meta-analysis to combine the results of these 12 studies and calculate a risk estimate that is based on all available evidence to date.  

“Documenting the risks associated with hormone treatment may allow for prescribers to feel more comfortable with prescribing practices, allowing for better overall management of transgender people,” said Greene. “Our data support the risk of thrombotic events in transgender women taking estrogen therapy being roughly comparable to the risk of thrombotic risks associated with oral contraceptives in premenopausal women. Given the widespread use of oral contraception, this level of risk appears to be broadly accepted.”

In a second study, a team of researchers led by Guy G.R. T’Sjoen, MD, PhD, also conducted a systematic review of all studies that measured risk factors for cardiovascular disease in transgender people taking hormone therapy. The researchers identified 77 relevant studies in this area and found that the majority of them report no increase in cardiovascular disease in either transgender men or women after 10 years of hormone therapy. The studies that did indicate a higher cardiovascular disease risk for transgender women in particular mainly involved patients using ethinyl estradiol, a now obsolete estrogen agent, and are therefore no longer valid.

T’Sjoen’s team does state that their results are not conclusive due to the small sample sizes and relatively short duration of the studies in this area (and Greene’s team included a similar caveat for their work). However, it is important to look at Greene and T’Sjoen’s studies in the context of transgender research as a whole. The field only began to receive National Institutes of Health funding in 2017 and is also lagging due to the fact that transgender patients often aren’t identified in medical databases that provide data for research. In light of this, these studies are significant not only because they suggest that transgender hormone therapy is safe, but also because they underscore the need for longer-term, large scale studies involving this underserved population.

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Health & Wellness

Sexual, gender minority patients report greater comfort when SOGI’s collected via nonverbal self-report

Registrar form collection is the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department.



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Sexual or gender minority patients reported greater comfort and improved communication when SOGI was collected via nonverbal self-report.

This is according to “Assessment of Patient-Centered Approaches to Collect Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Information in the Emergency Department”, a study done by Adil Haider, MD, MPH; Rachel R. Adler, ScD; Eric Schneider, PhD; et al and publisher din JAMA Network Open.

For this study, the researchers wanted to identify the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department (ED).

So they tapped four EDs on the east coast of the US that sequentially tested two different sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) collection approaches between February 2016 and March 2017.

A total of 540 enrolled patients were analyzed; the mean age was 36.4 years and 66.5% of those who identified their gender were female.

In particular, two SOGI collection approaches were tested: nurse verbal collection during the clinical encounter vs nonverbal collection during patient registration. The ED physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and registrars received education and training on sexual or gender minority health disparities and terminology prior to and throughout the intervention period.

Multivariable ordered logistic regression was used to assess whether either SOGI collection method was associated with higher patient satisfaction with their ED experience. Eligible adults older than 18 years who identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM) were enrolled and then matched 1 to 1 by age (aged ≥5 years) and illness severity (Emergency Severity Index score ±1) to patients who identified as heterosexual and cisgender (non-SGM), and to patients whose SOGI information was missing (blank field). Patients who identified as SGM, non-SGM, or had a blank field were invited to complete surveys about their ED visit. Data analysis was conducted from April 2017 to November 2017.

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The study found that sexual or gender minority patients had significantly better Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit scores with nonverbal registrar form collection compared with nurse verbal collection (mean [SD], 95.6 [11.9] vs 89.5 [20.5]; P = .03). No significant differences between the 2 approaches were found among non-SGM patients (mean [SD], 91.8 [18.9] vs 93.2 [13.6]; P = .59) or those with a blank field (92.7 [15.9] vs 93.6 [14.7]; P = .70). After adjusting for age, race, illness severity, and site, SGM patients had 2.57 (95% CI, 1.13-5.82) increased odds of a better Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit score category during form collection compared with verbal collection.

In a gist (and to emphasize): Registrar form collection is the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department.

“Our interventional study assessing two potential methods to collect SOGI in the ED found that SGM patients reported significantly higher satisfaction with their experience in the ED with registrar nonverbal collection compared with nurse verbal collection,” the researchers stated. “In other words, SGM patients preferred a standardized collection process where all patients could report SOGI along with other demographical information vs being asked by a nurse during a clinical encounter. Non-SGM patients and those without reported SOGI information were no less satisfied with form collection compared with verbal collection.”

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Health & Wellness

Non-heterosexual adolescents more vulnerable to depressive symptoms from 10 years old

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning youth are more likely to experience depressive symptoms from as young as age 10 and these symptoms persist at least into their early 20s.



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Depressive symptoms are more common among sexual minority youth than heterosexual youth at age 10, develop faster during adolescence, and continue into young adulthood (even if they start to decline from age 18).

This is according to “Depression and self-harm from adolescence to young adulthood in sexual minorities compared with heterosexuals in the UK: a population-based cohort study”, an observational study that followed almost 5,000 young people from 10 to 21 years of age in the UK. Published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, it was authored by Madeleine Irish, MSc; Francesca Solmi, PhD; Becky Mars, PhD; Michael King, PhD; Glyn Lewis, PhD; Rebecca M Pearson, PhD; et al.

Previous research found that annually, in the UK alone between 2001 and 2014, on average across 10- to 19-year-olds, around 37 per 10,000 girls and 12 per 10,000 boys were treated for self-harm.

The findings suggest that sexual minority youth and are four times more likely to report recent self-harm at ages 16 and 21 years than their heterosexual peers, and are at higher risk of depressive symptoms from as young as 10 years old.

“We’ve known for some time that sexual minority youth have worse mental health outcomes, and it’s quite concerning that we’ve found this trend starts as early as 10 years old, and worsens throughout adolescence,” said the study’s senior author, Lewis.

To make for a robust sample of LGBQ youth, all participants who were not exclusively heterosexual were grouped into the same ‘sexual minority’ category, including 625 people (13%) who had described themselves as homosexual, bisexual, mainly homosexual, mainly heterosexual, unsure or not attracted to either sex.

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The participants responded to questions about depressive symptoms seven times from age 10 to 21, and at 16 and 21 were asked if they had attempted to hurt themselves in the past year.

Depressive symptoms increased throughout adolescence in both groups but the increase was greater for sexual minority youth, who already were more likely to report depressive symptoms from age 10. Self-harm was more common among non-heterosexuals at both 16 and 21.

At age 18 years, the LGBQ adolescents were twice as likely to fulfil the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of depression.

Mental health outcomes were worse for each of the sexual minority groups compared to heterosexuals.

The researchers said that there may be numerous factors likely involved here.

“As these differences emerge so early, we suspect that a sense of feeling different might affect mental health before children can even articulate that difference. As they progress through adolescence, a range of stressors could be involved, such as discrimination, stigmatization, feelings of loneliness, social isolation, shame or fear or rejection, including at home or at school,” said the study’s first author, Irish.

The findings suggest that clinicians who encounter young people, whether in primary or secondary care, sexual health services, the emergency department, or as school nurses, should be mindful about sexuality in considering the wider context for depressive symptoms or self-harm.

“Clinicians should use language and questions that reflect openness about sexuality, and not assume heterosexuality, and they should be aware that a young person who identifies as not exclusively heterosexual may have struggled with mental health problems from early in development,” said co-author Pitman.

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The fact we found mental health disparities at such a young age suggests that early interventions may be useful to prevent and treat such mental health challenges, Lewis said.

“Despite changes to public perceptions and attitudes in recent years, gay, lesbian and bisexual youth remain at increased risk of long-term mental health problems – addressing this inequality should be a research, policy, clinical and public mental health priority,” Lewis ended.

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Health & Wellness

7 Tips to control your acid reflux

Acid reflux, unlike many other medical conditions, can be almost completely preventable – that is if you do the right thing. The following steps will help you reduce your symptoms of acid reflux.



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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn is a very common digestive disease. It happens when acid from the stomach escapes into the esophagus, the aftereffect is felt as heartburns, pain, and inflammation.

The condition is noticed when the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus becomes impaired, causing the acid and food in the stomach to flow back into the esophagus. If not treated over time, the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter can result in a more serious condition including throat cancer.

Acid reflux, unlike many other medical conditions, can be almost completely preventable – that is if you do the right thing. Acid reflux can cause sore throats and hoarseness and may literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. The following steps will help you reduce your symptoms of acid reflux.

1. Avoid Going to Bed After a Meal

Sleeping immediately after a meal one sure way to trigger acid reflux. Why? When you lie down (horizontally that is), you create a somewhat level field for the stomach acid and all that you’ve eaten to move freely into the esophagus. However, when you sit or stand, gravity help keeps the stomach acid in the stomach, where it belongs.

Sleeping immediately after a meal one sure way to trigger acid reflux.
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To prevent this, eat your meals at least two to three hours before lying down. This will give food time to digest and get out of your stomach. Furthermore, by this time, the acid level would have also gone down.

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2. Get to Know Your Triggers and Run from Them

For every person living with acid reflux, there are certain foods which trigger this condition. Onions, peppermint, chocolate, beverages with caffeine, citrus fruits or juice, tomatoes, high-fat and spicy foods are some known culprits. The list of triggers is relative, as what can cause an explosive heartburn for one may just be digested normally in another.

Get a list of foods and how you react with them. You can rank the heartburn effect you feel after eating them using a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 or even 20.
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To help with this, we advise that you get a list of foods and how you react with them. You can rank the heartburn effect you feel after eating them using a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 or even 20. The lower numbers on the list should represent the foods that leave mild heartburn symptoms.

It may take quite some time to get a comprehensive list when you finally do, it becomes easier to control your heartburn.

3. Reduce Your Mealtime Portions

Eating smaller meal portions is also another way of controlling acid reflux. When you overstuff your stomach, you give acid in the stomach no space – looking for where to stay, they move into the esophagus. If you cannot manage the small meals three times a day, you can eat up to four or five times a day. Just don’t overstuff your stomach.

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4. Eat a Little Bit Slower

Even if it is not your thing, you may need to consider eating more slowly to control your acid reflux. By slowing down your eating you will end up with less food in your stomach at any one time. It takes time for the chemical messengers in our stomach to let the brain know we’re getting full. Give those messengers time to work, and your body will better tell you when you’ve had enough.

By slowing down your eating you will end up with less food in your stomach at any one time. It takes time for the chemical messengers in our stomach to let the brain know we’re getting full.
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If you are a vigorous eater, you can mix food with conversation to spend more time on each meal. As a final resort, you can begin eating with your non-dominant hand. Unless you are ambidextrous or created to eat with both hands, this can be an easy way to slow down.

5. If You Do, Stop Smoking and Drink Moderately

While these are habits some consider cool and normal, they would worsen your heartburn. Cigarettes contain nicotine which will weaken the esophageal sphincter – the muscle saddled with the responsibility of controlling the opening between your esophagus and your stomach. When it’s closed, it keeps acid and other things in your stomach from going back up.

Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid and also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
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While alcohol may be a great way of blowing off steam after a stressful day, we recommend exercising, walking, meditation, stretching, or deep breathing instead of turning to the bottles. Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid and also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux back up into the esophagus.

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Taking alcohol may not leave the same effect on everyone. If some people, a bottle is more than enough to trigger reflux, others may be able to tolerate two, maybe three before the symptoms surface. The important thing is that you know how much you can take before reflux, and stick to it.

6. Use Medication

There are great medications to help with your acid reflux. First are antacids which will typically work very quickly on heartburn – but for a short period of time. Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums, are common Antacids. Next up are H2 blockers. These group of drugs will work for a longer period of time, usually up to 12 hours. Cimetidine, Famotidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine.

Finally, we have proton pump inhibitors, and Omeprazole is one of the most popular of these. Omeprazole works by reducing the amount of acid that your stomach produces and so helps to reduce the symptoms associated with acid reflux. Omeprazole is an effective and established medicine for the treatment of acid reflux.

There are great medications to help with your acid reflux.
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As a part of your medication, your doctor may advise that you drop some weight. Many experts believe that extra belly fat increases pressure on the stomach, forcing food and acid back up through the esophagus. Please, do this only after your doctor has recommended.

7. Sleep on an Inclined Plane

To put it simply, elevate your bed – the bedposts to be exact. By raising your bedpost up to six or eight inches, you give gravity the chance to keep gastric acid down in your stomach. Avoid using pillows as this can put your head at an angle that can put more pressure on your stomach and make your heartburn worse.

To put it simply, elevate your bed – the bedposts to be exact.
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