Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What is GERD?

Almost everyone has occasional heartburn. But if these symptoms occur two or more days a week for at least three months, you may have GERD, or acid reflux disease. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve separating the esophagus and stomach) does not close properly, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation of stomach acid into the mouth
  • Excessive clearing of the throat
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty and/or pain when swallowing
  • The feeling that food is stuck in your throat

What factors may contribute to GERD?

  • Overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications that delay emptying of the stomach
  • Medications that increase the back-up of acid into the esophagus

What foods may be associated with reflux events?

  • High fat foods – oil, butter, desserts, fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits – lime, orange, grapefruit, lemon
  • Raw garlic and onions
  • Caffeinated beverages – soda, coffee, tea
  • Chocolate
  • Mint flavorings – peppermint and spearmint oils
  • Tomato-based foods – pizza, chili, spaghetti sauce

What lifestyle changes can be made to help manage GERD?

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Do not lie down for at least 3 hours after a meal
  • Drink liquids between meals instead of with meals
  • To help neutralize stomach acid chew gum after meals
  • Be sure to eat a low fat diet
  • Sometimes raising the head of the bed 6 inches can help

Other sources of information: