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What are some non-medical treatments for GERD?

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Updated October 28, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What are some non-medical treatments for GERD?
Answer: There are ways to treat GERD that don't involve the use of medications.

Do not eat for at least two hours before going to bed at night. With less food in the stomach, stomach acid decreases, which means less acid available for reflux.

Avoid foods that may contribute to acid reflux. These include foods that weaken the lower esophageal sphinter (LES), and foods that may irritate any damage that may be present in the esophagus.

Stop smoking. Tobacco inhibits the production of saliva, which the body uses to help buffer and cleanse the mouth and throat. Tobacco may also stimulate the production of stomach acid, and weaken the LES, which can allow stomach contents to be refluxed back up into the esophagus.

Lessen or eliminate alcohol consumption. Alcohol can increase the production of stomach acid and relax the LES.

Sleep with your head elevated. You can do this by either elevating the head of the bed, or sleeping on a high wedge pillow. Simply using an extra pillow probably won't help.

Sources:

"What are the treatments for GERD?." The American College of Gastroenterology, 24 Oct 2009. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gerd/info7.asp>

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