5 tips for dealing with GERD


GERD (or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a sometimes debilitating condition that causes stomach acid to flow back up the tube that connects your stomach to your mouth. Most people will experience this kind of acid regurgitation at least once in their lives, but for some the illness is chronic. Not only is GERD uncomfortable, but it can cause long lasting damage. Here are some tips to alleviate the symptoms.

#1 Eat more, smaller meals

Rather than opting for the traditional three, heavy meals, GERD sufferers should break their meals into smaller, more manageable increments. Small meals are far easier to digest than larger ones and dividing these evenly over the day ensures that you’re never too full or too empty. Even an empty stomach can cause GERD, so split these meals appropriately over the course of the day. Avoid eating late at night and try to leave at least six hours between your final meal and lying down.

#2 Change your diet

What you eat plays a major role in digestive health. GERD sufferers should avoid acidic foods like curries, pizzas and even fruits like lemons and oranges. Hard to digest foods like cheese, carb dense and fried foods should also be avoided. Alcohol is extremely acidic and also works to relax your digestive tract, making it easier for acid to flow upwards. Fizzy drinks like colas are big culprits and should be avoided as a matter of course.

#3 Use thickeners

GERD can make it difficult for some people to swallow. They’ll struggle with solid foods, but thin liquids can be just as dangerous and cause choking. Using thickeners makes it easier to drink liquids. These thickeners are colorless, odorless and can be stirred into a drink in a matter of minutes. They make liquids much thicker and easier to swallow, mitigating the risk of choking. Some sufferers might opt for thick, blended soups if solid foods are too difficult.

#4 Elevate your bed

It might sound like a simple change but elevating your sleeping position even slightly can make a massive difference. Propping one end of the bed up so that your body is angled down gets gravity working on your behalf. It makes it more difficult for your stomach contents to flow upwards, often helping sufferers to get a peaceful night’s sleep. This is one of the first and easiest steps that you can take.

#5 Make lifestyle changes

Generally speaking, the healthier your lifestyle, the less likely you are to suffer from GERD symptoms. Smoking is a big risk factor, as is drinking alcohol. It might be the last thing on your mind if you’re suffering, but exercise makes a big difference. Even half an hour of light exercise will help to alleviate your symptoms in the long run. Cutting down on calories and losing weight plays a big role too. Pay attention to your mental health, as well. Stress, anxiety and depression tend to manifest in GERD symptoms. 

Article edited and fact checked by our editorial team.