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GERD Treatments and Lifestyle Adjustments

Lifestyle Adjustments for the Treatment of GERD

How is GERD treated?

See your health care provider if you have had symptoms of GERD and have been using antacids or other over-the-counter reflux medications for more than 2 weeks. Your health care provider may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who treats diseases of the stomach and intestines. Depending on the severity of your GERD, treatment may involve one or more of the following lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve GERD Symptoms

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that worsen symptoms.
  • Lose weight if needed.
  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by securing wood blocks under the bedposts or using a wedge under the mattress. Just using extra pillows will not help.

Other factors that may contribute to GERD include:

  • Obesity/pregnancy
  • Heavy or repetitive lifting and/or straining
  • Smoking

The foods you eat do not cause reflux but foods that commonly worsen reflux symptoms include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Drinks with caffeine or alcohol
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Mint flavorings
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili, and pizza

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