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GERD - How Can We Manage It?

MBBS, DNB, CCEBDM
General Physician, Hyderabad  •  7 years experience
GERD - How Can We Manage It?

Feeling acidic after eating a heavy meal can often make you regret those last few morsels. This acidic sensation is known as acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, better known as GERD. GERD occurs when the functioning of the lower oesophagus muscles is restricted. This makes the undigested food in the stomach and stomach acids leak back into the oesophagus.

Thankfully, this is not something you have to live with and a few simple lifestyle changes can help resolve the situation.

  1. Do not lie down after eating: When your body is in a horizontal position, there are higher chances of food being regurgitated into the oesophagus. To avoid this, finish your meals at least 3 hours before going to bed. Sit upright while eating and do not lie down or slouch immediately after eating. This gives the food time to be digested and move out of the stomach.
  2. Limit your food intake: Overeating is one of the most common triggers of GERD. Cutting down your portion sizes can instantly reduce the number of GERD occurrences. Instead of eating large, heavy meals, shorten the duration between meals and have more frequent small meals.
  3. Avoid foods that trigger acidityWith time, you will soon realise which types of foods trigger an acidic reaction. Some common triggers are onions, peppermint, caffeine, citrus fruits etc. Keeping a diary can help identify such foods and ease your problem.
  4. Quit Smoking: Nicotine not only harms your lungs, but can affect your digestive system as well. It is responsible for weakening the muscles that control the opening between the stomach and oesophagus. This allows stomach acids and food from the stomach to re-enter the oesophagus. Alcohol can also worsen GERD symptoms and hence it is better to avoid alcohol is you suffer from frequent bouts of acid reflux.
  5. Lose weight: Overeating, obesity and acid reflux go hand in hand. Being overweight can put extra pressure on your stomach and abdomen, thus pushing food and gastric juices into the oesophagus. Losing this extra weight should effectively resolve your acid reflux problem if you are overweight.
  6. Look at your medications: Some types of medication too can cause acid reflux by interfering with the digestive system and irritating the oesophagus. These types of medication include blood pressure medication, asthma medication, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, bisphosphonates, sedatives and painkillers. Do not simply stop taking these medications, but talk to your doctor about replacing them with something else.
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