Living with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can posechallenges inanyone’s daily life. Individuals with GERD have to make adjustments to make their symptoms manageable and to avoid letting the gastrointestinal condition overcome their lives.
The best thing you can do as a GERD sufferer is to work with a gastroenterologist or GI doctor with special training in managing gastrointestinal conditions. If not managed well, gastroesophageal reflux disease can have a negative impact on overall health.
In this blog, we discuss some lifestyle modifications you can make to manage GERD and its symptoms.
Are GERD and Acid Reflux the Same?
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and acid reflux are related conditions, but there are some key differences between them.
Acid reflux is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and a sour taste in the mouth. It is a temporary and occasional occurrence for most people. Acid reflux typically happens after meals, when lying down, or during sleep. While it can cause discomfort, it is usually manageable with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications.
On the other hand, GERD is a chronic and more severe form of acid reflux. It occurs when acid reflux happens frequently or consistently, leading to complications and damage to the esophagus.
Symptoms of GERD are similar to acid reflux but can be more persistent and severe. Common symptoms include:
- Frequent heartburn
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronic cough
Unlike acid reflux, GERD can significantly impact daily life and may require medical intervention for management.
Tips for GERD Management
Managing GERD requires a comprehensive approach. Here are some things you can do:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight can put pressure on the stomach and increase the likelihood of acid reflux. By achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, you can alleviate symptoms and reduce the frequency of reflux episodes.
2. Watch your diet
Certain foods and beverages can trigger acid reflux symptoms in individuals. It’s important to identify your lifestyle triggers and try to avoid them as much as possible.
Common dietary culprits of acid reflux symptoms include:
- Caffeine-containing drinks
- Citrus fruits or juices
- Fatty food
- Deep-fried foods
Meanwhile, some foods that are known to soothe acid reflux symptoms are:
- Whole grains such as oatmeal
- Vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli
3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Consuming large meals can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and lead to reflux. Instead, opt for smaller portions and spread out your meals throughout the day. This helps to prevent excessive stomach distension and reduces the likelihood of acid reflux episodes.
4. Avoid eating late at night
Eating close to bedtime can worsen symptoms of acid reflux. Aim to finish your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before lying down.
5. Practice proper posture
Maintaining an upright posture while eating and for a few hours after can help prevent acid reflux. Avoid slouching or lying down immediately after a meal, as this can increase the chances of reflux.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking can weaken the LES and contribute to acid reflux symptoms. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting to improve your overall health and reduce GERD symptoms.
7. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol can worsen acid reflux symptoms by relaxing the LES and increasing stomach acid production. Moderation is key, and it may be helpful to identify specific types of alcohol that trigger your symptoms and avoid them.
8. Manage stress levels
Stress has been linked to increased acid reflux symptoms. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, or yoga can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.
It’s important to note that while lifestyle modifications can significantly improve GERD symptoms, they may not eliminate them entirely. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a gastroenterologist for further evaluation and to find out your treatment options.
Gastroenterologist in Westlake and Brooklyn, OH
Our board-certified gastroenterologists and advanced practitioners at North Shore Gastroenterology provide individualized care for patients suffering from acid reflux and GERD symptoms. We will listen to you and carefully examine your condition to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, which is essential for our prescribed treatments to be effective.
We understand gastrointestinal symptoms can severely impact your life, and we are highly committed to your recovery. To schedule an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, call our office today at (440) 808-1212 or use our convenient online form. We look forward to seeing you soon.