If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) you have probably considered treatments for GERD. If GERD is the cause of your heartburn or acid reflux, there are both medical and non-medical treatments for GERD available to you. Depending upon severity, the non-medical approach can work wonders in treatments for GERD.
The disease dubbed GERD is a painful condition where stomach acid, bile and partially digested food can back up into the esophagus causing pain and if not treated can lead to esophageal damage. There is a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which is a powerful muscle between the esophagus and stomach. For patients with GERD, the LES may not close properly or may relax over time releasing the stomach contains back into the esophagus. The esophagus has no protection against stomach acid and can easily be damaged by these gastric juices over time. Treatments for GERD involve lifestyle changes and can involve surgery.
Non-Medical Treatments for GERD
The primary objective in non-medical treatments for GERD is to avoid stressing the lower esophageal sphincter which will help it remain closed. This can be done by avoiding the following:
- Smoking cigarettes – cigarette smoke can cause the LES to relax and promote reflux
- Alcohol and highly caffeinated beverages – both alcohol and high caffeine content beverages have chemicals that can make reflux worse
- Overeating – gorging at the buffet fills the stomach to capacity and forces upward pressure against the LES. Small meals should be eaten instead.
- Fatty and spicy foods – both of these categories of foods are bad for gastro reflux diseases.
- Obesity – excess weight puts pressure on the abdomen and diaphragm that in turn pressures the LES and leads to the sphincter relaxing.
- Tight clothing –tight clothing can restrict the abdomen and increase pressure as well. Dress for comfort if you are a GERD sufferer.
- Eating before bedtime –since you will be lying flat, reflux can occur easier at bedtime. Do not encourage the production of more stomach acids by eating before bedtime.
Medical Treatments for GERD
There are medical treatments for GERD as well, of course and it all hinges on what is causing your gastro reflux disease. One of the most common causes of GERD is a hiatal hernia. Around 15% of the general population suffer from hiatal hernias with almost no symptoms. However, nearly 80% of all patients with GERD have a hiatal hernia. It is the most common physical cause. There can also be other explanations that still rely on a medical approach. The options at this point are:
- Hiatal hernia repair-this is achieved quickly through minor surgery. Once the hernia is relocated and secured the GERD often is resolved.
- Medications – a non-surgical approach involves the use of a histamine blocker that lowers the production of stomach acid. There are prescription versions as well as some familiar over-the-counter varieties. Common brands include Zantac, Pepcid, or Tagamet.
The first step in seeking treatments for GERD is to make an appointment with your primary care physician to discover the cause and severity of your gastroesophageal reflux disease. Together, it can be determined if a medical or non-medical treatments for GERD are needed. Do not give up! No one should have to feel constant pain.Technology has made treatments for GERD safe and effective.