A significant number of patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) continue to suffer from symptoms despite initial treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). As GERD is a chronic, relapsing disease, most of these patients require long-term acid suppressive therapy to prevent relapse and complications.
Various approaches to GERD management have been proposed. Some have recently been approved by the FDA, while others are likely to be in the future.
GERD can be treated with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, if these don’t work, it may be time for more drastic measures.
Diet is an important part of GERD treatment because it can affect how the stomach functions and what symptoms you experience. Some foods can exacerbate the symptoms of GERD, while other foods might help to relieve your symptoms.
Avoiding high-fat, fatty, or fried foods can help to reduce reflux symptoms. Limiting coffee, tea, soda, and carbonated drinks can also be helpful.
Chocolate is another food to avoid because it can trigger a lot of symptoms related to acid reflux and GERD. It contains caffeine, which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and methylxanthine, an ingredient in cocoa powder, which also increases stomach acid.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” diet for GERD, so it’s best to experiment with different options and see what works for you. A plant-based diet that’s low in fat and high in fiber can be beneficial for GERD.
Positioning After Eating
GERD, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the valve that normally keeps stomach acid and juices from flowing back up into the esophagus doesn’t close properly. It’s a common digestive disorder that can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes.
But in rare cases when GERD doesn’t improve with lifestyle changes or medications, doctors may prescribe a type of surgery. These procedures are called “antireflux” surgeries and usually involve repairing a hiatal hernia (if present) and strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter, which helps control reflux.
Symptoms of GERD are most commonly experienced at night, which is why it’s important to change your sleep position to help reduce acid reflux at bedtime. One way to do this is by elevating the head of your bed six to eight inches, which elevates your esophagus higher than your stomach, thus reducing the amount of reflux that occurs. Other methods of achieving this include changing your body posture to avoid lying down right after eating or putting a wedge under your mattress to elevate your esophagus.
If you have acid reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) frequently, you may need some kind of medical intervention. These include lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery.
Lifestyle changes are often enough to control your symptoms, especially if you can cut back on certain foods that trigger your reflux. For example, avoiding sodas or spicy foods can help many people.
Another thing you can do to prevent GERD is exercise. However, be careful when exercising. Avoid stomach crunches, abdominal presses, and high-impact exercises, which relax the lower esophageal sphincter and allow acid to flow up into your esophagus.
You may also want to try staying hydrated while working out. Drinking too much water can put pressure on your LES, making reflux more likely.
Smoking is a practice that has been around for thousands of years. Its roots probably go back to the incense-burning ceremonies of shamans, who may have used it as a way to alter their minds for spiritual enlightenment.
People who smoke tobacco in cigarettes, cigars, and pipe (hookah) often develop acid reflux, or GERD, which causes heartburn, regurgitation, and other troublesome symptoms. GERD can lead to complications including strictures, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma.
In addition, smoking can cause or worsen poor blood flow in the arms and legs, which is known as peripheral vascular disease. This can make it hard for your body to heal from cuts or wounds.
Because of this, a lot of GERD surgeons won’t perform certain operations on patients who smoke tobacco regularly. Those who quit smoking can get treatment for their GERD symptoms and reduce their risk of complications from their condition.