Avoid Specific Eating and Drinking Habits
Habits to avoid include:
- Overeating (habitually eating large meals)
- Ingesting large amounts of fluid with meals
- Eating too fast
- Specific beverages, including:
- Caffeinated drinks
- Coffee with or without caffeine
- Carbonated drinks
- Specific foods, including
- High-fat foods
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
- Tomato products
Smoking cigarettes weakens the lower esophageal sphincter. Stopping smoking can help reduce GERD symptoms.
After Eating, Wait to Lie Down
After eating meals, wait at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down. This may lessen reflux by giving the stomach time to empty.
After Eating, Wait to Exercise
Exercising immediately after eating (especially jogging or strenuous activity) can cause stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. Wait at least two to three hours after eating to exercise.
Don’t Wear Tight Clothes or Belts
Wearing clothing or belts that are too tight can increase the reflux of stomach acid by increasing abdominal pressure For the same reason, don’t bend over or strain, especially soon after meals.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, losing weight and bringing your weight within the healthful range can help reduce the symptoms of GERD.
Learn and Practice Stress Management Techniques
By reducing the amount of stress in your daily life, you may be able to reduce symptoms of GERD, perhaps by reducing the amount of acid created in the stomach.
Elevate Your Head when Sleeping
Elevate the head of your bed by placing 4 to 6 inch blocks under the legs at the head of the bed. This reduces heartburn by allowing gravity to minimize reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus.
Chew Sugarless Gum for About 30 Minutes after a Meal
Chewing sugarless gum can help treat GERD by increasing saliva flow. Saliva is alkaline, which can help neutralize stomach acids in the esophagus. Make sure the gum is sugarless; gum with sugar can promote tooth decay.
When to Contact Your Health Care Provider
Contact your health care provider if new symptoms develop or old symptoms persist, worsen, or recur despite changing your lifestyle habits.