Lifestyle changes and medications are used to control the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, explains the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. GERD causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn and coughing.
People with GERD should lose excess weight, limit their alcohol consumption and quit smoking, states the AHRQ. Avoiding certain foods also helps keep GERD symptoms in check. Foods that can worsen GERD symptoms include citrus fruits, fried foods, fatty meats and full-fat dairy products, notes Healthline. People with GERD should also avoid or limit the consumption of onions, chocolate, tomatoes, garlic and spicy foods.
Proton-pump inhibitors, histamine type 2 receptor agonists and antacids are the medications used to control GERD symptoms, reports the AHRQ. PPIs reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach, preventing heartburn. H2RAs also limit the amount of acid produced by the stomach. Antacids neutralize stomach acid, relieving heartburn and preventing other symptoms associated with GERD. If lifestyle changes and medications do not keep GERD symptoms under control, surgery may be necessary. The procedure, called a fundoplication, strengthens the barrier separating the esophagus from the stomach. During the procedure, a surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus. This prevents stomach acid from backing up, relieving the symptoms of GERD.