Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, stomach content, flows back into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash (reflux) irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD.
Lifestyle changes may help reduce the frequency of heartburn. Consider trying to:
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain it. If you are overweight or obese, work to slowly lose weight — no more than 1 or 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week.
Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn. Everyone has specific triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine may make heartburn worse. Avoid foods you know will trigger your heartburn.
Eat smaller meals. Avoid overeating by eating smaller meals.
Don't lie down after a meal. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed.
Elevate the head of your bed. If you regularly experience heartburn at night or while trying to sleep, put gravity to work for you. Place wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed so that the head end is raised by 6 to 9 inches.
Don't smoke. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.
Consult gastroenterologist for further evaluation and treatment.
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