Non-surgical or conservative treatment
Treatment of acid reflux and its symptoms should start with some changes in lifestyle that may be all that is required. Some of the life style modifications include:
- Raising head end of bed:
Gravity plays an important role in controlling reflux. If heartburn occurs regularly at night (nocturnal GERD), consider raising the head of the bed. Maintaining an upright posture until the meal is digested may prevent the heartburn. Avoid exertion after a meal. This is especially true of tasks that require bending such as lifting or cleaning the floor.
Tip: Don’t lie down within 3 hours of eating. That’s when acid production is at its peak, so plan early dinners and avoids bedtime snacks. Elevate the head of your bed at least six inches. If possible, put wooden blocks under the legs at the head of the bed. Or, use a solid foam wedge under the head portion of the mattress. Simply using extra pillows may not help.
Avoid large meals
Avoid eating large meals or snack at bedtime as it increases the chances of reflux. It is best to eat early in the evening so that the meal is digested at bedtime. You might try having the main meal at noon and a lighter one at dinnertime. All meals should be eaten in relaxed stress-free surroundings. Smaller meals and an upright, relaxed posture should help minimize reflux.
Tip: Avoid large meals, especially late in the day. Try to make your main meal the mid-day meal.
- Watch your diet
Certain foods compromise the sphincter’s ability to prevent reflux, and are best avoided before lying down or exertion. Common food items like fats, onions, and chocolate are known to cause reflux. Alcohol is known to trigger heartburn by stimulating stomach acid production. Common beverages such as coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated), tea, cola, tomato juice, and citrus juice may also aggravate symptoms in majority of the patients.
- Tip:Experiment to find what does and does not work best for you. Start by reducing fatty foods, onions, and chocolate. Use lozenges or gum to keep producing saliva.
- Being overweight can promote reflux. Excess abdominal fat puts pressure on the stomach and the loss of even a moderate amount of weight makes many people feel better.
- Pregnancy is often troubled by heartburn, particularly in the first three months. Certain hormones appear to weaken the LES, and the increasingly crowded abdomen encourages reflux.
Tip: Avoid wearing tight-fitting garments. Increased pressure on the abdomen can open the esophageal sphincter.
Medicines for GERD Treatment
GERD Medications: Over the Counter and Prescription
Therapy though medicines may be the most appropriate next step for the treatment of GERD, if diet and lifestyle changes alone do not resolve symptoms. For many patients, treatment with medicines will reduce heartburn and reflux symptoms..
Types of Medicines Used for Treating GERD
- Antacids: This type of medication directly neutralizes gastric acid and provides rapid but temporary relief.
- H2RAs:H2RAs reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach by inhibiting the release of histamine, the principal stimulus for acid secretion in the stomach. PPIs: PPIs are the most effective medical therapy to treat GERD. PPIs work by blocking the mechanism that produces stomach acid. This lowers the acidity of the digestive fluids involved in reflux, and thus reduces reflux symptoms. PPIs are available in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths.