What is the treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
The treatment of GERD can be broadly divided into two- lifestyle changes and medicines. Among them, lifestyle changes go a long way in reducing the medicine requirement. These include
a) Have regular food habits, ie have food at regular timings and use home made food.
b) Take small frequent meals
c) Avoid smoking
d) Find out which food items trigger reflux symptoms in you regularly and avoid them. However, carbonated beverages, caffeine, spicy and fatty foods and alcohol trigger symptoms in most people who suffer from this condition.
e) Avoid lying down or sleeping for 2 hours after a meal
f) Raise the head end of the bed by 6-8 inches while sleeping. Using multiple pillows will not help.
g) Avoid obesity
h) Avoid tight clothes in the abdominal area while sleeping
Apart from this, the mainstay of management of this condition are medicines called proton pump inhibitors. These are medicines to reduce the acid secretion in the stomach which helps to reduce the reflux. These medicines are to be taken 30 minutes before food. Apart from these, for milder disease, antacids and other medicines called H2 receptor blockers also help in this condition.
For those patients who are dependent on medicines for long time, there are surgical options also available, usually a keyhole (laparoscopic ) surgery to tighten the lower end of esophagus.