Chemotherapy: What to Avoid & Do When Having Acid Reflux

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Having cancer and undergoing certain treatments is undoubtedly debilitating. One major cancer treatment is chemotherapy that uses drugs to kill dividing cancer cells and prevent them from growing even further. 

One problem associated with chemotherapy is acid reflux, which is actually common among many cancer patients. As you may or may not know, the medications used to target dividing cancer cells can also attack other good cells in the body. These include the cells in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract that, when damaged, can lead to stomach acid flow into your esophagus.

As such, acid reflux may present you with indigestion and heartburn sensations. When such an episode occurs, you may feel chest pain and a burning feeling. Other symptoms include a sore throat, coughing, a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and asthma-like symptoms.

When you’re on chemotherapy or have completed your treatment but are still experiencing acid reflux, here’s what to avoid and what to do. 

What to avoid

To reduce the likelihood of experiencing discomfort caused by acid reflux, try your best to avoid the following:

  • Heavy meals: You should not consume heavy meals if you have acid reflux. After eating, make sure to lie down or bend over at the waist. If you need to rest, prop your head up in bed or on the couch for a relief.
  • Bedtime snacks: It’s not good to have snacks before bedtime if you have acid reflux. Acid reflux can all the more worsen if you consume foods that are hard to digest and drink certain beverages that can trigger more acid.
  • Tight clothes or belts: It’s like adding salt to the wounds if you wear tight clothes or belts when you have acid reflux, which can further increase the overall discomfort.
  • Certain foods and beverages: There are some foods and drinks you should avoid at all costs, such as animal protein, dairy, citrus fruits, and fatty and spicy foods. You also have to refrain from drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, coffee, tea, or carbonated drinks.

What to do

For regular individuals, taking digestive enzymes and increasing stomach acid with betaine hydrochloric acid can help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux. However, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment should take acid-neutralizing medications, whether obtained OTC or prescribed by the doctor. 

Generally, antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid. Here’s what you can take for acid reflux:

  • Antacids — Tums, Rolaids, and Mylanta
  • Proton-pump inhibitors — Nexium 24h (esomeprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole magnesium), Prevacid 24h (lansoprazole), and Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate)
  • H2 blockers — Pepcid Complete or Pepcid AC (famotidine), Tagamet HB (cimetidine), and Axid AR (nizatidine)


Truth be told, dealing with cancer can be devastating, and having acid reflux will even add up to the overall health conditions. For this reason, make sure to follow the valuable tips mentioned above by knowing what to avoid and what to do. 

At the end of the day, it’s best to talk to your doctor and find a licensed nutritionist who both can help you rise above your situation. For more tips on curing acid reflux, visit the Heartburn No More website today!