Treatment for acid reflux
Treatment for acid reflux, heartburn or GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease) may include lifestyle and diet changes, medication or an operation.
Can acid reflux disease be treated with diet and lifestyle changes?
One of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease is to avoid the activities, foods and beverages that trigger symptoms. Here are other steps you can take:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Stop smoking.
- Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it about 15cm (6in).
- Don't eat within two to three hours before lying down.
- Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
- Don't wear tight clothes or tight belts.
- If you're overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
- Ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Can acid reflux disease be treated with medication?
In many cases lifestyle changes combined with over-the-counter medication are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Antacids can neutralise the acid from your stomach.
Prescription treatments for heartburn
If antacids don't help, your doctor may try other medications. Some require a prescription. Your doctor may suggest more than one type or suggest you try a combination of medications such as these:
- Foaming agents coat your stomach to prevent reflux.
- H2 blockers decrease acid production.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) also reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
- Prokinetics can help strengthen the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS), empty your stomach faster and reduce acid reflux.
Don't combine more than one type of antacid or other medications without your doctor's guidance.
Is acid reflux disease ever treated with surgery?
If medication doesn't completely resolve symptoms of acid reflux disease and the symptoms are severely interfering with your life, your doctor may recommend surgery. A procedure called fundoplication can help prevent further acid reflux. It creates an artificial valve using the top of your stomach. The procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the LOS to strengthen it, prevent acid reflux and repair a hiatus hernia. Surgeons perform this procedure through either an open incision in the abdomen or chest or with keyhole surgery. This procedure is done only as a last resort for treatment of acid reflux disease when other non-surgical treatments have been unsuccessful.