How should I manage my GERD?

Reflux symptoms sometimes disappear if dietary or lifestyle excesses that cause the symptoms are reduced or eliminated. Avoiding these items may reduce your discomfort:  
  • coffee
  • citrus drinks
  • tomato-based products
  • carbonated beverages
  • chocolate
  • peppermint
  • fatty or spicy foods
  • eating within three hours of bedtime
  • smoking
  • excess alcohol consumption
  • excess weight gain
Propping up the head of the bed at night may be helpful. Should symptoms persist, over-the-counter antacids may decrease discomfort. Antacids, however, only work for a short time and for this reason, they have a limited role in treating reflux disease. Histamine H2-receptor antagonists (cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine and nizatidine) decrease acid production in the stomach. These medications work well for treating mild reflux symptoms and are quite safe, with few side effects. They are available over the counter at a reduced dose, or at a higher dose when given by prescription by your doctor. You should see your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, trouble swallowing or internal bleeding in addition to heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Symptoms that persist after you have made simple lifestyle changes also warrant a visit to your doctor. In addition, if you use over-the-counter medications regularly to reduce symptoms such as heartburn or acid regurgitation, you should consult a physician to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be managed in many different ways, depending on a patient's preference and the seriousness of the condition. Possible management methods include treatment with a variety of medications, experimental endoscopic treatment, or surgery. The list of medicines is lengthy and includes over-the-counter antacids and H2 Blockers, which work well for mild GERD. A change of diet can help, too. For more severe reflux, protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) are an option. Medications can be increasingly costly, however, and may provide incomplete relief.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.