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GERD and Healing: Diet and Lifestyle Changes

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 losing weight or stopping the use of tobacco products (see Smoking and GERD).
Your doctor may also suggest other lifestyle changes for your GERD treatment, including:
  • 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.
  • Not wearing tight clothing, which can put pressure on your stomach and make symptoms of GERD worse.
  • Raising the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts -- just using extra pillows will not help.
  • Chewing gum or sucking on lozenges to increase your saliva production, which helps to neutralize acid reflux.
While your doctor can give you some suggestions on how to relieve your symptoms, everyone is different. Start by paying close attention to your diet and activities. Over time, you can figure out which lifestyle changes might relieve your symptoms.

GERD and Healing: Surgery

GERD surgery may be recommended if the combination of dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and treatment with drugs is not effective. GERD surgery, known medically as "fundoplication," is a procedure in which the lower esophageal sphincter is tightened. This surgery can be done with laparoscopic techniques (a special video camera is used), which often leave smaller scars. There are also a couple of newer options available for people considering GERD surgery.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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