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Healthy You

Managing Your GERD Symptoms

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 8:14 AM

It happens to the best of us – we overindulge during the holidays, on a night out or at a family dinner and experience stomach pains, acid reflux and heartburn. It’s estimated that Gastroesophagael Reflux Disease (GERD) regularly affects close to 50 percent of the adult population.

This digestive disorder happens when stomach acid and/or bile flows up into the esophagus leading to acid reflux, heartburn and in severe situations even esophageal cancer.

The NorthShore Gastroenterologist experts offer suggestions to reduce GERD symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Simply gaining 10 pounds can aggravate the condition and increase painful symptoms.
  • Limit your consumption of fats. Fats can delay emptying of the gastric chamber and increase the likelihood of reflux.
  • Decrease the intake of caffeine. This includes chocolate, coffee (regular and decaffeinated) and caffeinated tea.
  • Avoid heavy consumption of alcohol.
  • Avoid late-night eating. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.
  • Raise the torso (6-8 inches) when sleeping. This can be done with either an adjustable bed or a wedge pillow.
  • Take it easy and relax. Stress magnifies the symptoms of reflux; exercise is a good way to combat stress and help maintain a healthy weight.

Which of these recommendations works best for you? Which of these recommendations is the hardest to follow?

If you think you may be at risk for GERD, take our GERD Risk Assessment.