Nothing tastes as good as a delicious meal...until you're tasting it a second time.
If you're one of the 20% of people in the U.S. suffering from GERD, you know how frustrating this can be. From a foul taste in the mouth to nausea and bloating, GERD never fails to sideline your day. Even a minor case of acid reflux can be distracting enough to disrupt your focus.
While you're waiting for your symptoms to disappear, you might start asking yourself, "How long does GERD last?"
The symptoms of this annoying condition can vary from person to person, but you may have to wait minutes or hours for them to fade. Worse, these symptoms can reoccur for months or even years without treatment.
If you've been procrastinating getting your mild to moderate GERD under control, here's your wake-up call! Let's take a look at how long the average instance of acid reflux lasts, how long you might have to deal with the condition, and how long it takes to heal.
How Long Do GERD Symptoms Last After a Meal?
If you've started experiencing GERD symptoms after a meal, the timeline varies. In most cases, you will continue to experience the symptoms of GERD for as long as you have food in your stomach.
Acid reflux happens due to a malfunctioning valve between your stomach and esophagus. This allows stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus. This backflow is more common after you've eaten a large meal or reclined after eating.
As the food moves into your small intestine, your symptoms will start to fade. You may notice less chest pain, heartburn, or soreness in your throat as this happens.
For most people, a single instance of heartburn can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. In other cases, symptoms may persist for far longer. The timeline depends on many different factors, including your age, weight, the amount and type of food you've eaten, and your current medications.
How Long Does GERD Last?
GERD is a chronic condition. Most people experience symptoms that come and go over several months or years. Though individual events may trigger these symptoms, your GERD doesn't disappear once its symptoms have faded.
If you make zero lifestyle changes, the symptoms of GERD will never go away. Because this condition involves a bodily malfunction (i.e., a stomach valve issue), it will not disappear on its own.
With lifestyle changes and medications, however, the symptoms of GERD may fade in time. As mentioned above, the timeline can vary a great deal based on many different factors, including your stage of GERD.
If you have mild GERD, meaning that you experience symptoms less than once a week, you can often treat it with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. The majority of people with GERD fall into this category. For most people, mild GERD symptoms will start to fade in less than a month.
With moderate GERD, you experience symptoms several times a week. Lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter treatment may not be enough to address this.
Talk to your doctor about medical treatments. Histamine-2 (H2) receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may help.
For moderate GERD, you can expect signs of relief within 6-12 weeks of treatment.
If you have severe GERD, your symptoms have a major impact on your day-to-day life. You likely have esophageal complications like severe inflammation, even with prescription medications.
Treatments at this stage can vary, and working with a GERD specialist is highly recommended. Most people take several months to recover from this stage of GERD.
Reflux-Induced Precancerous Lesions
The fourth stage of GERD is the most serious, and specialist care is a must. Surgery and cancer treatment may be necessary, and the timeline for healing can vary wildly from patient to patient.
How Long Does It Take to Heal From GERD?
If the details above sound alarming, there's good news ahead. Once you've gotten your symptoms under control, it may not take long for you to heal from GERD.
When you struggle with GERD for a while, you may develop a condition called esophagitis. This is inflammation of the esophagus, and it can make swallowing difficult or painful.
For many people, it takes around 3-6 weeks for the esophagus to heal from the damage caused by acid reflux. The right medications and lifestyle changes that reduce stomach acid can speed up this timeline.
How Can I Tell When I'm Getting Better?
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell when your treatment is working. This is especially true if you're using lifestyle changes and supplements to treat your GERD without help from a doctor.
To help patients understand the GERD healing stages, many medical professionals still use a framework the American Academy of Family Physicians developed decades ago. This framework looks at GERD according to the treatment needed to manage it.
If you are in stage one, you only need lifestyle modifications to address your GERD symptoms. At stage two, you take medicine as needed, and at stage three, you take medication every day. At stage four, you're taking the lowest effective dose of an H2-receptor blocker or a prokinetic agent, and at stage five, you need surgery.
If you are moving from needing medication every day to taking it as needed, you know your condition is improving. If you've progressed away from medication and only need lifestyle modifications, you're doing even better.
Say Goodbye to GERD
How long does GERD last? With the right treatments, it doesn't have to last long at all!
The good news is that it's possible to beat the symptoms of GERD. Even if you feel like you're struggling to find foods you can eat or dealing with esophageal inflammation, relief is on the horizon. For most people, it comes in just a few weeks.
If you're trying to address your mild to moderate GERD, we're here to help. GerdLi's all-natural formula may help decrease stomach acid, relieve heartburn symptoms, and help you get back to your healthy lifestyle. To get started, shop with us today.