Although many people can relieve their reflux disease symptoms by changes in their habits and lifestyle, others need to consult their health care provider.
Call your health care provider when symptoms of GERD occur frequently, disrupt your sleep, interfere with work or other activities, or are not relieved by self-care measures alone.
Make your health care provider aware that you are using self-care measures so that he or she can monitor how well they work and how often you need to use them.
If you have any of the following, go immediately to the closest emergency department:
Many people can relieve their symptoms by changing their habits and lifestyle. The following steps, if followed, may reduce your reflux significantly.
Some of these changes may be difficult for people to make. Talk to your health care provider if you need some tips on losing
weight or quitting
smoking. Knowing that your
heartburn will get better may keep you motivated.
These also may help relieve your symptoms. Check with your health care provider before trying any of these.
Antacids: These are effective when taken 1 hour after meals and at bedtime because they neutralize acid already present.
Some familiar brand names of antacids are Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Tums.
Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach apparently helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus.
These agents are safe to use every day over a few weeks, but if taken over a longer period can cause side effects:
If you use these daily for more than 3 weeks, you should let your health care provider know.
Histamine-2 receptor blockers (H2-blockers). These prevent acid production.
H2-blockers are effective only if taken at least 1 hour before meals because they don't affect acid that is already present.
Common H2-blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid).
For best results, follow the advice of your health care provider concerning medication and lifestyle.
The best and safest way to prevent reflux disease from occurring is to change the things that cause reflux.
Reflux disease (GERD) is treatable, but relapses are common, especially if you do not change your lifestyle.
Complications of acid reflux can include any of the following. Most of these are rare, but GERD can be the first step toward any of them. The best treatment for any of these is prevention.
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