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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 quitting smoking.

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:
    • Diarrhea
    • 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 professional.

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 2/13/2013
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Acid Reflux (GERD):

GERD - Proton Pump Inhibitors

Heartburn symptoms caused by GERD are usually relieved by drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium, Zegerid; however, sometimes they do not work well. Can you please describe your GERD symptoms that did not improve on PPIs? Did you find other treatments effective?

GERD - Symptoms and Signs

What were your GERD symptoms and signs?





Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

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