GERD Treatments

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a treatable illness affecting millions of people worldwide. Gerd treatment includes surgical intervention with several oral medications and supplements also available. Gastroesophageal reflux treatment usually involves a combined treatment approach, with a change in diet and long-term medication use.

The first option is to reduce the amount of food intake to prevent GERD. This is most beneficial when individuals do not eat before sleep. If patients do eat before bed, they have the option of tilting the bed upwards to allow gravity to settle the stomach acids. Discontinuing nicotine and alcohol use has also shown to be beneficial. Keeping a food diary of the foods that most affect your GERD is recommended.

A brief listing of foods to avoid includes: citrus fruits, chocolates, tomatoes and acidic beverages. Coffee and caffeinated drinks are some common culprits. Mild gastroesophageal reflux disease can be treated by the avoiding and completing the aforementioned tasks. Moderate or severe GERD uses the above methods with surgical or pharmaceutical interventions.

For all of the following medications, it's important to use as directed. Different entities for gastroesophageal reflux disease treatment have separate dosing protocols and side effects.

Drugs are a viable GERD treatment. Over the counter and prescription entities are FDA-approved for GERD. Selections of the histamine blocker variety include: Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), Protonix (pantoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), Aciphex (rabeprazole), Dexilant (dexlansoprazole). Prilosec and Zegerid is available over the counter as of 2011. All of these block special histamine receptors that enhance the production of stomach acid. Histamine blockers are generally taken daily and before any meals.

Traditional calcium, aluminum, or other antacids such as the brand name Tums and Rolaids can bring relief. They work by physically increasing the pH of the stomach, which reduces GERD symptoms. Pepto-Bismol can also help reduce heartburn, but works via a different mechanism. Over the counter foaming agents like Gaviscon use foam to enhance the surface area of the solid-based antacid.

Natural or non-regulated gerd treatments are comprised of oral options like baking soda. A few teaspoons of baking soda can lower the pH of the stomach.

The proton pump inhibitor class includes Pepcid, Axid, Tagamet and Zantac. This class, sometimes called PPIs, have the generic names of famotidine, nizatidine, cimetidine and ranitidine, respectively. All of these pharmaceuticals for gastroesophageal reflux disease are available without a prescription. A prescription drug GERD treatment called Reglan (metoclopramide) prevents heartburn by increasing gastric motility.

Side effects for these GERD treatments vary in severity, but common ones include diarrhea, sore throat, fatigue or vomiting. It's best to stop the medication in this case if it is over the counter, and try a new one. If these side effects occur with a prescription medication, speak to your doctor about any of these changes.

Uncontrolled symptoms may respond to GERD treatments like a laproscopic fundoplication or open fundoplication. A lapropscopic procedure uses keyhole-sized entries with and completes the surgery with an internal flashlight. This type of procedure usually has a lower recovery time than an open surgery. An open surgery has a larger incision in the abdomen, and the procedure is completed in natural light.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease can have structural and anatomical implications. GERD may be caused by Barrett's esophagus, a hiatal hernia, or esophagitis, all of which have a high rate of treatment with surgical intervention. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often caused by a weakening of this system, located on top of the stomach.

Both procedures are completed under general anesthesia, and targets the lower esophageal sphincter. A weak sphincter allows acid to rise above the stomach, and causes GERD symptoms. This GERD treatment wraps the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter with stitches, helping prevent gastric acid from touching the esophagus.

With GERD treatment, it's important to know the risks and success rates of the medications. 3 out of 10 patients need to take oral medications even after surgery. GERD treatment in the elderly and very sick is different than traditionally healthy patients. Sometimes, the risk of surgery is too high. Another confounding factor is the inability of GERD treatments to overcome the symptoms of medications that loosen the esophageal sphincter. Severe cases should focus on management of the condition. Other experimental GERD treatments such as endoscopic radiofrequency and stitching are coming to the forefront of medicine, and refractory cases should consider contacting a teaching hospital for a wider array of options.

Last Updated: April 18, 2018