Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) (cont.)
Acid Reflux (GERD) Home Remedies
In some cases symptoms may be relieved by changing habits, diet, and lifestyle. The following steps may reduce reflux.
- Don't eat within 3 hours of bedtime. This allows your stomach to empty and
acid production to decrease.
- Don't lie down right after eating at any time of day.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches with blocks. Gravity helps prevent reflux.
- Don't eat large meals. Eating a lot of food at one time increases the amount of acid needed to digest it. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
- Avoid fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, mints or mint-flavored foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomato-based foods. These foods decrease the competence of the
lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the likelihood that acid from your stomach will back up.
Stop smoking. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter and increases reflux.
- Lose excess weight. Overweight and obese people are much more likely to have bothersome reflux than people of healthy weight.
- Stand upright or sit up straight, maintain good posture. This helps food and acid pass through the stomach instead of backing up into the esophagus.
- Talk to your health-care professional about taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as
aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or medicines for osteoporosis. These can aggravate reflux in some people.
Talk to your health-care professional if you need tips on losing weight or
Nonprescription (over-the-counter) remedies
Over-the-counter medications also may help relieve your symptoms. Check with your health-care
professional before trying any of these.
Antacids (Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Tums): These are effective when taken 1 hour after meals and at bedtime because they neutralize acid already present.
- Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus.
- These agents are safe to use every day over a few weeks, but if taken over a longer period can cause side effects:
- Impaired metabolism of calcium in the body
- Build-up of magnesium in the body, which can damage the kidneys
- If you use these daily for more than 3 weeks, inform your health-care
Histamine-2 receptor blockers (H2-blockers) prevent acid production.
- H2-blockers are effective only if taken at least 1 hour before meals because they don't affect acid that is already present.
- Common H2-blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
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