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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - How Best Can You Manage It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ajay Choksey 91% (264 ratings)
MD-General Medicine, D.M, Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Gastroenterologist, Ahmedabad  •  11 years experience
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - How Best Can You Manage It?

GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic digestive disease which occurs when the stomach acid and at times the contents in your stomach flows backwards into the food pipe. The backwash or reflux irritates the esophagus's lining and hence causes GERD. Individuals may manage GERD's discomfort by changing their lifestyle and by taking over-the-counter or OTC medications. But, certain people might also require stronger medications or surgery for reducing the symptoms.

Some of the basic signs include chest pain, burning sensation in the chest, dry cough, difficulty in swallowing, sore throat, etc. If you experience such symptoms at least twice a week or if your physician notices damage in your food pipe, then you might undergo diagnosis. Though drugs are the primary GERD treatment yet, an individual can manage it by following certain tips which may give relief.

Few ways to manage GERD- self-care tips:

  1. One of the effective ways to help yourself is by consuming smaller meals. Instead of taking three big meals regularly, you may try having smaller meals frequently and avoid stuffing.
  2. Almost all individuals tend to have dinner just half an hour before sleep, but this might affect GERD patients. It is best to eat 2 hours before going to bed as by doing so your stomach will get enough time to digest the food.
  3. Due to a hectic schedule and fast paced lifestyle, people tend to eat as quickly as possible. To manage GERD, one must eat slowly and put down the spoon or fork in between each bite.
  4. Changing the daily diet by striking off the trigger foods is beneficial in managing GERD symptoms. Though the food triggers vary from one person to another yet, it includes coffee, chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, tomato, citrus juices, onions, spicy and high- fat foods, etc.
  5. Sleeping with the head end of the bed elevated by 6 inches is a very effective way of reducing night time reflux. It is also advisable to sleep on your left side . Never sleep on the right side as this position promotes reflux. Medications to reduce acid production are the mainstay of the medical treatment.
  6. One always has to ensure that they are following the various lifestyle changes along with the medication. Other medications include pro kinetic medicines which help the stomach empty. Surgery always remains the last resort in the treatment of GERD. Endoscopy is required for the diagnosis or GERD Prior to any surgery a Manometry and 24 hr ph merry test is compulsory.

If you are suffering from GERD symptoms frequently, then you may maintain a diary for figuring out which foods are giving you trouble.

When is a surgery required?
If lifestyle changing tips and other medications fail to provide any relief, then physicians recommend undergoing surgery.

  • Surgery is done for strengthening lower esophageal sphincter and also for reinforcing it. The surgery for reinforcing lower esophageal sphincter is performed by surgeons laparoscopically. The surgeon inserts instruments like a tiny camera and flexible tube by making 3-4 incisions in the abdomen. This surgery for managing GERD may be quite effective.
  • Experts state that candidates who undergo GERD surgery are those who are unwilling to take GERD drugs or are not getting relief from them. While choosing a surgeon, it is better to consider one who possesses huge experience of the particular operation which you need and also with a good track record.
  • So, you must visit a doctor if you experience frequent gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms. It won't be a good decision to take OTC medications without your doctor's recommendation if you notice arm or jaw pain along with difficulty in breathing as these are signs of heart attack.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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