Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common, but chronic, condition that many people suffer from. Acid reflux is the regurgitating of stomach contents back into the esophagus, which can cause discomfort and damage to the lining of the esophagus due to the acidic enzymes present in stomach fluid. There are many different treatments used to treat acid reflux, including medication and lifestyle and dietary changes.
One of the primary and simplest treatments for acid reflux involves changing lifestyle and eating habits. People suffering from acid reflux are more susceptible to its characteristic symptoms of heartburn and nausea at night. Therefore, eating during the last few hours before bed is discouraged. People with acid reflux are also encouraged to avoid foods that aggravate their condition such as spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
In addition to dietary changes, it may also be recommended to stop smoking, avoid large meals, and sleep at an elevated angle. It is also possible that developing the habit of chewing gum, especially after meals, can reduce symptoms of acid reflux. All or any number of the dietary and lifestyle changes suggested here may be recommended as treatment for the symptoms of acid reflux, or your doctor may make other suggestions.
In many cases, reducing the symptoms of acid reflux without medication may not be enough to treat the condition. More persistent cases may require medication, especially if the esophagus has become damaged. There are both prescription and over the counter medications that treat symptoms of acid reflux, but only prescription medication can also help heal a damaged esophagus.
Over the counter medications are antacids or acid suppressants. There are several different varieties that treat the symptoms of acid reflux and each individual responds differently. You may have to try several before you find which one works best for you. In addition, your doctor may prescribe medication for acid reflux. Some medications, such as Tagament and Pepcid, were once available only by prescription but are now sold over the counter. However, prescription strength varieties of both medications still exist and other prescription medication may be necessary.
If you are experiencing frequent heartburn, indigestion, or nausea, especially after meals or at night, talk to you doctor about your symptoms. Some symptoms of acid reflux mimic other conditions, such as stomach ulcers, and only a doctor can diagnose acid reflux. Many people must employ trial and error tactics when looking for relief from acid reflux and once a treatment is successful, may have to continue taking medication indefinitely. However, most people are able to find a combination of treatments that are successful.