What Is Acid Reflux Disease?
Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Diet and Lifestyle Changes?
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Quit smoking.
- Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 inches to 6 inches.
- Don't eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
- Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
- Don't wear tight clothes or tight belts.
- If you're overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
- Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Medications?
In many cases, lifestyle changes combined with over-the-counter medications are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Riopan, can neutralize the acid from your stomach. But they may cause diarrhea or constipation, especially if you overuse them. It's best to use antacids that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. When combined, they may help counteract these gastrointestinal side effects.
If antacids don't help, your doctor may try other medications. Some require a prescription. Your doctor may suggest more than one type or suggest you try a combination of medications such as these:
- Foaming agents (Gaviscon) coat your stomach to prevent reflux.
- H2 blockers (Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) decrease acid production.
- Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium) also reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
- Prokinetics (Reglan, Urecholine) can help strengthen the LES, empty your stomach faster, and reduce acid reflux.
Don't combine more than one type of antacid or other medications without your doctor's guidance.
Is Acid Reflux Disease Ever Treated With Surgery?
If medications don't completely resolve your symptoms of acid reflux disease and the symptoms are severely interfering with your life, your doctor could recommend surgery. There are two types of surgical treatment used to relieve symptoms of GERD if daily use of medication isn't effective.
The most recently approved procedure involves surgically implanting a ring known as a LINX device around the lower end of the esophagus. The ring consists of a series of titanium beads with magnetic cores held together by titanium wires. The ring is placed around the sphincter muscle. When it is in place, it helps prevent stomach content from backing up into the esophagus. In one clinical study involving 100 patients, 93 of them were able to either stop taking medicine or else significantly reduce the amount they took.
Another surgical procedure called fundoplication can help prevent further acid reflux. It creates an artificial valve using the top of your stomach. The procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the LES to strengthen it, prevent acid reflux, and repair a hiatal hernia. Surgeons perform this procedure through either an open incision in the abdomen or chest or with a lighted tube inserted through a tiny incision in the abdomen.
These procedures are done only as a last resort for treating acid reflux disease after medical treatment has proven to be inadequate.