When the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, it leads to heartburn or acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This can be a serious condition if not taken care of in a timely manner. However, most people can overcome the symptoms by making certain lifestyle changes, and it is only severe cases that require medications. Listed below are some treatment options for acid reflux and GERD for your awareness.

1. OTC medicines
Your doctor may be able to diagnose the condition based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Based on the test results, your doctor may recommend treating GERD through the following OTC medications:

  • Antacids
    These medicines help ease the heartburn and clear your stomach of acid. However, they do not heal ulcers or repair the damage caused to your esophagus.
  • H-2 receptor blockers
    They do not work as quickly as the antacids, but their effect on your system lasts for longer.
  • Proton pump inhibitors
    These medications are stronger and provide better relief than the H-2 receptor blockers. They are also efficient in healing the damage caused to your esophagus from acid reflux.

2. Prescription medication

If OTC medicines fail to work after a couple of weeks, then your doctor may put you on a higher dosage of proton pump inhibitors or H-2 receptor blockers. They may also recommend prokinetics, a class of drugs that helps in strengthening the muscles in the lower part of your esophagus. However, these can cause side effects, such as fatigue, diarrhea, anxiety, and nausea

3. Surgery

Sometimes medicines don’t work well or patients want to avoid its debilitating side effects. In these cases, your doctor may perform surgery to constrict the esophagus and regulate acid reflux while allowing the food to pass. This treatment method is opted for only in the most extreme cases of GERD.

4. Lifestyle changes

Apart from these treatment options for acid reflux and GERD, you can also consider making the following lifestyle changes to prevent the recurrence of these attacks.

5. Lose weight

Being overweight puts pressure on your stomach. Therefore, you must talk to a professional about healthy ways of losing weight so you keep the numbers on the scale under control.

6. Overcome stress

Stress can cause GERD symptoms to trigger. The best way to keep your stomach calm is by practicing stress-release methods, such as yoga and meditation. You should also engage in relaxing activities to rid yourself of anxiety.

7. Maintain a food journal

Foods like citrus fruits, spicy foods, fried foods, alcoholic drinks, soda, and so on can trigger GERD symptoms. Maintain a food journal to keep a track of what you eat as it will help you identify the triggers and avoid them.

8. Wear comfortable clothing

Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes that press against your esophagus and stomach.

9. Follow good eating habits

Apart from consuming balanced and nutritious food, you must also consider eating multiple small meals during the day rather than one large meal.

It is advisable to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to help them recommend the best treatment plan for you.