Your healthcare provider will recommend a treatment for GERD after considering factors such as how severe your symptoms are and what you have already tried. Most people are able to find some combination of lifestyle changes and medication that offers short- and long-term control of their GERD symptoms. Options include dietary and lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.
An Overview of GERD Treatment
For a person with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), several treatment options are available. The one your healthcare provider recommends will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- How severe your symptoms are
- When they occur
- How much they interfere with your life
- What you have tried in the past.
Specific GERD treatment options include:
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Used to Treat GERDDepending on your particular situation, your GERD symptoms may improve simply by making certain changes to your diet and lifestyle. Many people find that there are several factors that make their symptoms worse, so it may take awhile to experiment and figure out exactly what you need to do to eliminate or reduce your symptoms.
For example, your doctor may suggest that you avoid certain foods that make your acid reflux worse. You might be told to avoid eating anything close to bedtime (see GERD Diet). In some people, it helps to make lifestyle changes, such as stopping the use of tobacco products (see Smoking and GERD) or losing weight.
Your doctor may also suggest other lifestyle changes for as part of treating GERD, such as:
- Not wearing tight clothing, which can put pressure on your stomach and make symptoms of GERD worse.
- Chewing gum or sucking on lozenges to increase your saliva production, which helps to neutralize acid reflux.
- Reducing stress. Stress can increase both how much acid your stomach produces and the amount of time it takes to empty after eating, both of which make it more likely for reflux to happen.
- Raising the head of your bed six to eight inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts -- just using extra pillows will not help.
While your doctor can give you some suggestions about what to try to relieve your symptoms, everyone is different. By paying close attention to your diet and activities for some time, you can try to figure out on your own which lifestyle changes might relieve your symptoms.