The first step in treating mild acid reflux often includes lifestyle and diet modifications:
- Avoid food, beverages and medications that can aggravate acid reflux symptoms: spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, caffeine, soda, mustard, citrus or fruit juices, vinegar and tomato products, including ketchup.
- Decrease portion sizes at mealtime
- Eat meals at least two to three hours before bedtime and go to sleep with an empty stomach
- Elevate the head of your bed four to six inches or use a wedge
- Lose weight
- Exercise with an empty stomach
- Avoid tight clothing
- Stop smoking
- Avoid stress
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications available to relieve moderate or severe acid reflux symptoms. Some of these medications neutralize stomach acid while others help stop acid production. For most, medications are effective, but they may require lifelong use for continued control of symptoms.
There are several classes of medications that may help in controlling the initial signs and symptoms of heartburn/GERD:
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are designed for short-term use (two weeks). If your symptoms continue you should contact your physician or one of our GERD experts.
Antacids neutralize acid in the stomach. Examples of antacids include Rolaids®, Tums® and Maalox®.
H2 Blockers reduce acid production. Examples of H2 blockers include Zantac®, Pepcid® and Axid.
PPI's proton pump inhibors effectively stop acid production. Examples of ppi's include Prevacid® and Prilosec®.
Prescription strength medications of the H2 Blockers and PPI's are commonly prescribed. These often are very effective in treating the side-effects of heartburn, though they do not treat the underlying cause. Furthermore, new data about PPI's (Nexium®, Aciphex®, Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Protonix, Dexilant) raises concerns about long-term use. You should ask your physician or one of our experts if you are taking these medications longer than three months.
Medications work in about 90 percent of people with acid reflux. However, they don't work for everyone and don't repair the cause of acid reflux. For moderate or severe acid reflux, surgery may be a treatment option if:
- You continue to suffer from persistent heartburn, or other reflux symptoms, while taking medication
- You are concerned about or develop adverse side effects such as osteoporosis as a result of taking medication
- Symptoms return when therapy is stopped
- Your esophagus is damaged (bleeding/stricture)
- You prefer not to take lifelong medication or feel you cannot afford to do so
Scott & White now offers the LINX® Reflux Management System
The LINX® System is the only FDA-approved treatment for GERD to stop reflux at its source. It is implanted laparoscopically in a minimally invasive procedure that typically takes less than one hour.