Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid and food in the stomach reflux (back up) into the esophagus.



  • Antacids: This medicine decreases the stomach acid that can irritate your esophagus and stomach.

  • Histamine type-2 receptor blockers: This group of medicines is also called H2 blockers. They block acid production in the stomach.

  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): This medicine blocks acid production in the stomach. These medicines may cause miscarriages and should not be used by pregnant women.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Help prevent GERD:

  • Avoid foods and drinks that may increase heartburn: These include chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, and caffeine. Foods and beverages that can irritate your esophagus, such as citrus fruits, juices, and alcohol, should also be avoided.

  • Avoid eating large meals: When you eat a lot of food at one time, your stomach needs more acid to digest it. Eat 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large ones and eat slowly. Avoid eating for 2 to 3 hours before bedtime as this may also decrease acid reflux.

  • Elevate the head of the bed: Place 6-inch blocks under the head of your bed frame. Use more than one pillow under your head and shoulders while you sleep.

  • Keep a healthy weight: If you are overweight, weight loss helps relieve symptoms of GERD.

  • Stop smoking: Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter.

For more information:

  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
    2 Information Way
    Bethesda , MD 20892-3570
    Phone: 1- 800 - 891-5389
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel full and cannot burp or vomit.

  • You have severe chest pain and trouble breathing all of a sudden.

  • Your bowel movements are black, bloody, or tarry-looking.

  • Your vomit looks like coffee grounds or has blood in it.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (Discharge Care)