GERD can be treated in several ways:
– The first approach is dietary and lifestyle modifications. For example, decreasing the intake of foods that increase gastric acidity or reduce the pressure at the muscle at the esophagus’s lower end. These foods and drinks affect esophageal peristalsis and can include coffee, alcohol, chocolate, mint, and acidic liquids. Fatty foods should also be avoided since they slow gastric emptying. Large meals increase gastric pressure and therefore increase reflux, and lying down after eating should be avoided to keep the food in the stomach from refluxing into the esophagus. Additionally, an individual with reflux should keep their head elevated at night to prevent the same type of reflux.
– Another way to treat GERD is to reduce or completely cease smoking. Smoking affects esophageal motor function, stimulates acid secretion, and delays gastric emptying, potentiating reflux. Air swallowed while smoking increases the need for belching, and therefore increases reflux.
– Weight reduction is also recommended for those patients who are markedly overweight to lessen the frequency of reflux.
– Drug therapy is also used in combination with lifestyle changes. Doctors will often prescribe acid-suppressing agents and drugs that enhance upper gastrointestinal motility.
– Surgery is another choice to manage GERD. This mode of treatment is used primarily if the patient is unwilling or unable to cope with the lifestyle changes necessary for reflux disease management. The most common procedure is a Nissen fundoplication.