Preventing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

To help prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease, people should avoid heartburn triggers and should not smoke. It also is important to maintain a healthy weight and make healthy lifestyle choices (e.g., exercise regularly).

Patients who suspect that medications are worsening acid indigestion and other symptoms of GERD should consult a physician or pharmacist.

According to our sister publication, REMEDY's Healthy Living Winter 2014, heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when the acid that helps digest food in your stomach comes back up into the esophagus. Here are some heartburn-banishing tips from David Bernstein, M.D., a gastroenterologist at North Shore University Hospital in New York.

  • Cut back on fatty foods: In addition to triggering acid production, fried and fatty foods slow digestion. Drinking plenty of water with rich meals helps to dilute the acid and keep food moving through your digestive tract.
  • Sleep upright: If you experience heartburn at night, try elevating your head and upper back with pillows to a 45-degree angle. Gravity helps prevent acid from flowing up into the esophagus by keeping it in the stomach where it belongs. Waiting to go to sleep at least four hours after eating a meal can help, too.
  • Grab an antacid: Over-the-counter H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors that decrease the production of acid can provide heartburn relief in a pinch, but avoid calcium-carbonate antacids, which can trigger more acid production in some people.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015