Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation in your chest commonly referred to as heartburn. While occasional heartburn is normal, experiencing it frequently can lead to GERD, which can cause serious health complications if left untreated.
GERD can be caused by a variety of factors, including a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES), obesity, and a hiatus hernia. You may be at a higher risk for developing GERD if you are a smoker, pregnant, or have a family history of the disease.
If you suffer from GERD, you may be interested in learning about the various treatments available to alleviate your symptoms. This article will explore a range of methods for getting rid of GERD, including lifestyle changes, medications, home remedies, surgical options, and more.
One of the most effective ways to get rid of GERD is to make lifestyle changes that can reduce your symptoms and prevent future occurrences. Here are some lifestyle changes you may wish to consider:
If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help reduce your symptoms of GERD. This is because excess weight can put pressure on your abdomen and stomach, causing the LES to open more frequently and allowing stomach acid to reflux into your esophagus.
Avoiding Trigger Foods and Drinks
There are certain foods and drinks that are more likely to cause GERD symptoms, such as chocolate, alcohol, and spicy foods. Avoiding these trigger foods and drinks can help reduce your symptoms and prevent future occurrences.
Alcohol can also contribute to GERD symptoms. If you are a heavy drinker, reducing your alcohol intake or quitting altogether can help alleviate your symptoms.
Smoking can weaken the LES and promote acid reflux. If you smoke, quitting can help reduce your symptoms and prevent future occurrences.
Sleeping with your head elevated can help prevent stomach acid from refluxing into your esophagus. You can achieve this by using a wedge pillow or elevating the head of your bed. Additionally, avoiding eating right before bedtime can help reduce your risk of acid reflux while you sleep.
There are a variety of medications available to treat GERD, ranging from over-the-counter antacids to prescription medications. Here are some of the most common types of medications used to treat GERD:
Antacids are over-the-counter medications that can help neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from heartburn and indigestion. Examples of antacids include Tums and Rolaids.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are prescription medications that can help reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach. Examples of PPIs include Nexium and Prilosec.
H2 blockers are another type of medication that can help reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach. Examples of H2 blockers include Zantac and Pepcid.
Prokinetics are prescription medications that can help strengthen the LES and promote the emptying of your stomach, reducing the amount of acid that can reflux into your esophagus. Examples of prokinetics include Reglan and Urecholine.
OTC and Prescription Medications
There are also a variety of other over-the-counter and prescription medications available to treat GERD, including sucralfate and baclofen. Your doctor can help you determine which medication is right for you.
In addition to lifestyle changes and medications, there are also a variety of home remedies that can help alleviate GERD symptoms. Here are a few examples:
Chamomile tea has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce GERD symptoms. Drinking chamomile tea before bed may help you sleep more soundly and reduce your risk of nighttime reflux.
Ginger tea has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce GERD symptoms. Drinking ginger tea before or after a meal may help reduce your risk of acid reflux.
Apple Cider Vinegar
While it may seem counterintuitive, drinking apple cider vinegar can actually help reduce GERD symptoms for some people. Simply mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink before or after a meal.
Baking soda can help neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from heartburn. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink when you experience symptoms of acid reflux.
If lifestyle changes, medications, and home remedies do not provide adequate relief from your GERD symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. Here are the most common surgical options for treating GERD:
Fundoplication is a surgical procedure in which the upper portion of your stomach is wrapped around the LES to reinforce it and prevent acid reflux. This procedure is typically performed using minimally invasive techniques and is often effective in reducing GERD symptoms.
LINX is a newer surgical procedure in which a small, flexible ring of magnets is implanted around the LES to strengthen it and prevent acid reflux. This procedure is also minimally invasive and may provide long-term relief from GERD symptoms.
Foods to Eat and Avoid
In addition to avoiding trigger foods and drinks, there are certain foods that can help reduce your risk of GERD symptoms. Here are some examples of meals that are GERD-friendly:
Examples of Meals
- Oatmeal with almond milk and sliced bananas
- Baked chicken breast with roasted vegetables
- Brown rice with tofu and steamed vegetables
- Salmon with quinoa and stir-fried vegetables
- Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce and low-fat meatballs
Explanation of Why Certain Foods Cause GERD
There are certain foods and drinks that can weaken the LES and promote acid reflux, including chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods. Additionally, eating large meals or lying down shortly after eating can increase your risk of acid reflux.
Tips for Avoiding Trigger Foods
If there are certain trigger foods that you enjoy but know will cause GERD symptoms, try eating smaller portions or reducing your intake. Additionally, you may want to try incorporating more GERD-friendly foods into your diet to reduce your overall risk of acid reflux.
If you suffer from GERD, there are a variety of methods available to help alleviate your symptoms and prevent future occurrences. Making lifestyle changes, taking medications, trying home remedies, and considering surgical options are all viable ways to get rid of GERD. Remember to consult with your doctor to determine which method is right for you.
If you are struggling with GERD, know that you are not alone. With proper treatment, you can reduce your symptoms and lead a more comfortable life. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.