Lifestyle Changes to Manage Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Michael Jubinville, MPH
Lifestyle changes may help manage problems related to GERD. Not all changes will work for everyone. Keep a journal of foods, drinks, or other activities that cause discomfort. It can help you find which changes may be most helpful.
General Guidelines for Managing GERD
Smoking cigarettes affects the body's nerve and blood supply. This makes it harder for the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to work as it should. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit. Quitting may help ease problems you have with GERD.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess belly weight makes pressure on the stomach higher. This makes it harder for the LES to work as it should. Obesity also raises the risk of a hiatal hernia. If you're overweight, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about how to lose weight safely. If you are in a healthy range, maintain your weight to help control GERD symptoms.
Avoid Certain Eating and Drinking Habits
Overeating can overwhelm the stomach and make it difficult for LES to close. To avoid overfilling the stomach:
Be aware of foods that make GERD symptoms worse. The exact foods can vary from person to person.
The most common problem foods are:
The most common problem drinks are:
Position and Timing
The stomach needs time to break down food and move it in the right direction. To help ease problems after you eat:
Lying down makes it easier for content to flow backwards from the stomach. Elevating your head 6-8 inches allows gravity to help keep stomach contents in place. Placing blocks under the legs at the head of your bed may help.
Don’t Wear Tight Clothes or Belts
Wearing clothing or belts that are too tight makes pressure in the belly higher. This causes the reflux of stomach acid. This may be more of a problem for those who have excess weight around the midsection.
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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 8/20/2018
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