Though scientific evidence is considerably lacking , lifestyle modifications are usually the appropriate first step in the treatment array. For mild GERD sufferers with infrequent symptoms, simple dietary and lifestyle changes may offer symptom relief.
- Watch your diet: Avoid foods that can trigger symptoms, such as coffee, tea or carbonated beverages; fatty, fried or spicy foods; and citrus fruits, tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppermint or chocolate.
- Eat small, frequent meals: A large meal takes longer to empty from your stomach and may exert undue pressure on your gastroesophageal valve.
- Lose weight: Excess weight can distort normal anatomy and subsequently cause reflux.
- Do not recline within 3 hours of eating: When you lay flat, gravity is no longer keeping stomach contents where they belong, making it easier for stomach acid to flow up into your esophagus or throat.
- Raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches: Doing so can reduce nighttime reflux episodes.
- Stop smoking: Studies show that nicotine weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that controls the gastroesophageal valve.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol, especially white wine and beer, has been known to induce reflux.
- Reduce pressure on the stomach: Too much pressure can squeeze the stomach and increase symptoms. You can reduce pressure on the stomach by maintaining a healthy weight, eating smaller meals and wearing loose-fitting clothes.
It is important to remember that GERD is a chronic condition and that treatment of this disease is a step-wise approach based on symptom severity.
If GERD symptoms affect your life, consult your physician to discuss appropriate treatment.
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