Acid Reflux Treatment
If you are among the millions of Americans with acid reflux, treatment may range from lifestyle changes to surgery, depending on the recommendation of your physician.
Your acid reflux treatment program, as recommended by your doctor, may include some of these lifestyle changes:
- An acid reflux diet that eliminates acidic and fatty foods and includes foods and beverages that do not trigger symptoms.
- Eating small meals throughout the day.
- Avoiding going to bed for at least two hours after eating.
- Losing weight, which may shrink your abdomen, thereby easing pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve between the esophagus and stomach.
- Quitting smoking. Nicotine may cause the LES to relax, causing acid to travel from the stomach to the esophagus.
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol. Like nicotine, alcohol can cause the LES to relax.
- Avoiding restrictive clothing. Tight clothes can put pressure on the LES.
- Avoiding coffee, tea, and sodas (decaffeinated and caffeinated) because of their acidity.
- Elevating the head of your bed so stomach acid follows the path of gravity.
- Evaluating your use of over-the-counter and prescription medications with your doctor. Some medications can contribute to acid reflux.
- Exercising. Exercise helps digestion and can help with weight loss.
Medical experts aren't sure if lifestyle changes alone can reduce symptoms, so your doctor may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs are intended to reduce acid production in the stomach.
As a last resort for acid reflux treatment, your doctor may suggest fundoplication. This surgical procedure is designed to strengthen the LES valve and help stop acid from traveling from the stomach to the esophagus.
Other acid reflux treatment options may include over-the-counter antacids, which are designed to neutralize stomach acid. However, some experts say that antacids may only provide temporary relief or may have no impact on symptoms.
Before attempting to address acid reflux on your own, (this includes taking antacids or pH buffer capsules, changing your diet, etc.), consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. If your doctor determines that you have acid reflux, foods that you eat will likely be the first thing your physician will evaluate.