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  • 8 Steps To Take In GERD Management Aside From Medication

    There are ways to relieve and avoid acid reflux caused by GERD.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
8 Steps To Take In GERD Management Aside From Medication
PHOTO BY Shutterstock
  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    When you constantly suffer from heartburn, which is a symptom of acid reflux, then you could already be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You should immediately consult your doctor, so you'll be given GERD medication and medical advice on how to manage your condition.

    Diagnosis of GERD

    Your doctor might be able to diagnose GERD based on a physical examination and history of your signs and symptoms, according to experts from Mayo Clinic. They add that to confirm a diagnosis of GERD, or to check for complications, your doctor might recommend you undergo:

    • Upper endoscopy
    • Ambulatory acid (pH) probe test
    • Esophageal manometry
    • X-ray of upper digestive system

    There are other recommendations in the study, titled Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which is published on the Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine. The study was conducted by a group of Filipino medical specialists after a convention in 2013.

    One of the recommendations reads: "A clinical diagnosis of GERD can be made if the typical symptoms of acid regurgitation and/or heartburn are present. In this setting, upper endoscopy is not necessary and empiric acid suppressive therapy can be started in patients without alarm features."

    GERD Medication

    If you're diagnosed to be be suffering from GERD, your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. Experts point out, though, that if you don't experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.


    The options for over-the-counter medications:

    • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid.
    • Medications to reduce acid production.
    • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus.

    The medical specialists also have this recommendation: "When symptoms relapse after standard GERD treatment, on demand or intermittent Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) therapy is suggested for Nonerosive Reflux Disease (NERD) while continuous PPI treatment is recommended for moderate to severe erosive is recommended for moderate to severe erosive the lowest effective dose of PPI."

    Management of GERD

    Aside from taking GERD medication, experts and specialists suggest that you also make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage your condition. Thus, you can avoid the three conditions that contribute to acid reflux: poor clearance of food or acid from the esophagus; too much acid in the stomach, and delayed stomach emptying.

    This is according to Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as author of A Woman's Guide to a Healthy Stomach: Taking Control of Your Digestive Health.

    Change your diet

    After numerous bouts with acid reflux, you may have known by now that certain foods aggravate your condition. That's why you need to change your eating choices and habits. If you can't totally give up fatty, salty, acidic, and spicy food, then maybe you can lessen your intake or do it during cheat days. (Read here for GERD foods to avoid and what to eat instead.)

    Mind what you drink

    Aside from eating certain foods, you should also think twice about drinking particular beverages. These include carbonated drinks (soda, softdrinks) and those loaded with caffeine (coffee, tea, milk tea).

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    Have small frequent meals

    Instead of the usual three square meals a day, consider smaller portions but do so up to six times daily. This will avoid having a full stomach, which typically leads to acid reflux.

    Stay up after eating

    It's best to stay seated if you can't stand up right after a meal, so the acid will remain in your stomach and not go back up in your esophagus. For this reason, you need to wait for about three hours before lying down. So, it's best to avoid naps after lunch or late dinners and midnight snacks.

    Slow down

    Still after eating, it's best to avoid doing strenuous activities or working out. You may consider taking a casual walk instead.

    Sleep on an incline

    While lying down, it's best for your head to be six to eight inches higher than your feet. But stacking up pillows won't do the trick, as you won't achieve the uniform support. Try instead installing bed risers or using a foam wedge.

    Watch your weight

    If you put on weight more than you should, the tendency is it will spread the muscular structure that supports the lower esophageal sphincter. It then decreases the pressure that holds the sphincter closed. End results: reflux and heartburn. (Read here for weight-loss tips.)

    Quit smoking, if you haven't

    Nicotine has been found to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which then causes acid reflux and counteracts your GERD medication. If you stop smoking, you will protect not only your digestive system but also your respiratory system and other organs.

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