Effective treatments for GERD include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications for controlling acid, prescription medications and surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Doctors usually only recommend prescription medications and surgery if the initial over-the-counter medicine is not effective after a few weeks of use.
A doctor may recommend medicine that neutralizes stomach acid, reduces acid production, or blocks acid production and heals the esophagus, notes Mayo Clinic. Over-the-counter medications normally alleviate GERD symptoms within two to three weeks.
If symptoms persist, a doctor may recommend prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers, prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors or medications to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, states Mayo Clinic. To increase their strength, a doctor may prescribe a combination of GERD medications.
Usually medications are sufficient treatment for GERD, according to Mayo Clinic. If the patient does not wish to use medications for an extended period of time or if the medications do not work effectively, a doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter.
Lifestyle changes that may help to alleviate or prevent GERD include maintaining a healthy weight, wearing looser clothing, avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals, notes Mayo Clinic. Avoiding lying down after eating and refraining from smoking are also helpful. Elevating the head of the bed 6 to 9 inches may help to prevent GERD.