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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid and food in the stomach reflux (back up) into the esophagus.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You feel full and cannot burp or vomit.
- You have severe chest pain and sudden trouble breathing.
- Your bowel movements are black, bloody, or tarry-looking.
- Your vomit looks like coffee grounds or has blood in it.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines are used to decrease stomach acid. Medicine may also be used to help your lower esophageal sphincter and stomach contract (tighten) more.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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 healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage and prevent GERD:
- Do not have foods or drinks that may increase heartburn. These include chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, and drinks that contain caffeine. Do not have foods or drinks that can irritate your esophagus, such as citrus fruits, juices, and alcohol.
- Do not eat 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. Do not eat meals 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
- Drink liquids between meals. Do not drink liquids with meals unless directed by your dietitian.
- Sit up when you eat or drink. Remain sitting up at least 30 minutes after you eat.
- Elevate the head of your bed. Place 6-inch blocks under the head of your bed frame. You may also use more than one pillow under your head and shoulders while you sleep. Do not lie down for 1 hour after you eat or drink.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, weight loss may help relieve symptoms of GERD.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
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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.