John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
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:
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?