GERD TREATMENT OPTIONS REFLUX TESTING AND TREATMENT

If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, there are several approaches available to help manage your symptoms.

MANAGING YOUR GERD SYMPTOMS

If you have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) based on your symptoms or through objective reflux testing, there are several approaches available to help manage your symptoms. Many people can manage their GERD symptoms by making lifestyle changes or with over-the-counter medications. In severe cases, some people may require stronger medications or surgery to relieve their symptoms.

Man leans over edge of bed to take pills while woman next to him sleeps.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES FOR GERD

Often, physicians suggest lifestyle changes to relief GERD symptoms.1,2

Recommended lifestyle changes may include:

  • Avoid foods and drinks that trigger symptoms
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid eating less than three hours before bed


GERD MEDICATION

If you don’t experience relief within a few weeks of making the recommended lifestyle changes, your doctor might recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications for GERD.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medications that reduce the production of acid in your stomach. However, PPIs are not always effective — approximately 30% of people with GERD do not respond to PPIs and continue to experience symptoms.3 For those people, the medication isn’t treating the real problem.

If you have been taking antacids for months are still having symptoms (including stomach pain, nausea, difficulty swallowing, or trouble breathing at night), you should consult a gastroenterologist (GI).

Other medications that may help with management of GERD symptoms include:

  • Antacids — Over-the-counter medications that neutralize stomach acid, such as Tums™*, Maalox™*, or Mylanta™*
  • H2 Blockers — Medications that decrease production of acid by blocking the cells that release stomach acid, such as Zantac™*, Pepcid™*, or Axid

Even if PPIs or other medications do provide relief, in some patients they only “mask” symptoms — they do not address the underlying cause of symptoms, which can delay the diagnosis of GERD.4 It is important to note that if you are prescribed a PPI, you must take the medication exactly as directed, not just when you feel symptoms.

If you were diagnosed with GERD based on symptoms, take PPIs regularly, and still have reflux symptoms, speak to a gastroenterologist (GI) about a reflux test.


SURGERY FOR GASTROESOPAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE

GERD can often be controlled by lifestyle changes and medication. Your GI may recommend further interventional steps for patients whose symptoms are not relieved by medication or lifestyle changes.

Surgery is only recommended for people whose GERD symptoms are not relieved by medication or lifestyle changes.5 One surgical procedure used to treat GERD is called laparoscopic fundoplication. This minimally invasive procedure reinforces the valve at the base of the esophagus in order to prevent reflux.

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Information and resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always discuss diagnosis and treatment information including risks with your doctor. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary.


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1

MacGill M. Acid Reflux: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146619.php. Accessed on December 15, 2016.

2

Diseases and Conditions: GERD. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20025201. Accessed on December 15, 2016.

3

Vaezi M, Zehrai A, Yuksel E. Testing for refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease. ASGE Leading Edge. 2012;2(2):1-13. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

4

How to Treat Heartburn. Retrieved from: http://howtotreatheartburn.com/how-to-wean-off-ppis-and-why/. Accessed on December 15, 2016.

5

Heartburn/GERD Health Center. WebMD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/treating-with-surgery. Accessed on December 15, 2016.