Q: What are my options for treating acid reflux disease? I don't like taking pills, so I'm hoping to avoid medication. What do you suggest?
— Alex, California
A: The most effective treatments for severe and symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) include medications (pills or capsules) that block acid, such as proton pump inhibitors and histamine-2 receptor blockers, and a type of laparoscopic surgery called a Nissen fundoplication. However, GERD can also be treated without pills or surgery by using a combination of nutritional and lifestyle measures and over-the-counter liquid antacids. For example, eating smaller meals more frequently and skipping food for two hours before bedtime reduces the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Avoiding fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and peppermint can also improve GERD symptoms. Other lifestyle changes you can try include losing weight, avoiding tight-fitting clothing, and using a surgical wedge or wooden boards to raise the head of your bed so gravity can help minimize GERD during sleep. Liquid antacids that help GERD symptoms include magnesium or aluminum products such as Maalox, Mylanta, and Gaviscon.
Last Updated: 05/12/2008
Digestive health expert Mark Babyatsky answers your frequently asked questions on digestive health symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, medications, management, and resources. Dr. Babyatsky is a gastroenterologist, professor of medicine, and chairman of the Samuel L. Bronfman Department of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.