Don't Take Reflux Lying Down: 3 Approaches To Treating GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes frequent, uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. In most instances, a combination of lifestyle changes and retail medications can keep the problem under control. When these strategies are ineffective, surgical procedures may be necessary.

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes symptoms are triggered or made worse by certain foods or beverages. Usually these foods and beverages are acidic, carbonated, oily, or coarse. For example, some animal proteins may seem tender to chew, but are generally harder on the digestive system, such as beef and pork, whereas poultry and fish may not cause problems. Eating smaller, light meals can also improve symptoms. You should refrain from eating within a few hours of lying down. If you must lie down, keeping your upper body elevated may prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus. Some people with GERD find keeping themselves elevated, whether they have eaten recently or not is necessary.

Retail Medications

Although there are many antacid medications available, they work differently. In the beginning, the occasional use of acid reducers (H2 blockers) might be enough to help symptoms. As symptoms worsen and you find you are using acid reducers more often than recommended, you should switch to proton-pump inhibitors. One course of these medications is typically two weeks. Taking them in the morning with water and 30 minutes before food or coffee allows them to work their best. Even if you notice improvement in your symptoms after a few days you should continue the course of medication. After you finish these medications, you may need to continue any lifestyle changes to prevent the issue from returning. If the issue returns, ask your doctor how to proceed. Some doctors recommend taking proton-pump inhibitors regularly to manage GERD.

Surgical Procedures

Sometimes surgery is necessary for people who do not achieve adequate control of their symptoms with medication or as a long-term solution to avoid chronic use of medications, which may become less effective over time. The least invasive surgery involves tightening the area between your esophagus and stomach by creating controlled scars with ablation. This procedure is typically done with an endoscope, which is a small camera inserted into the esophagus through your mouth. Other surgical options include laparoscopic surgery to tighten the area between the esophagus and stomach with sutures. Although this procedure is somewhat more invasive, it may be more helpful than an endoscopic surgery.

Although GERD can seem like an insurmountable battle, there are ways to win. Lifestyle changes and taking the right medications will give you the best chance at improving the problem without surgery. For more information about GERD treatment, speak to your doctor.