How to cure GERD permanently: 3 ways
GERD is a common digestive disorder.
While you can manage some symptoms with medications, you may wonder if it is possible to cure GERD permanently. The answer is yes — you may be able to through surgery and lifestyle factors, or both.
GERD can greatly affect your quality of life, featuring symptoms like:
- Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest that can spread to the throat.
- Acid reflux: Sour or bitter-tasting liquid coming back into the mouth.
- Chest pain: Discomfort or pain in the chest.
- Coughing and wheezing: Often as a result of acid irritating the airways.
- Sore throat: A scratchy or painful feeling in the throat.
- Bloating and nausea: Feelings of fullness, discomfort, and sometimes vomiting.
- Stomach pain: Discomfort or pain in the upper part of your stomach.
Surgery for GERD
People usually try lifestyle changes — like diet — and medication to manage their GERD symptoms. If these measures aren’t working, and you have severe chronic symptoms, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery to cure GERD.
The most common type of surgery for this purpose is fundoplication. Here, a surgeon wraps the top of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to strengthen it and prevent acid reflux.
Another surgery is called magnetic sphincter augmentation. This involves implanting a small magnetic ring around the LES to tighten it.
Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) is a minimally invasive procedure gaining popularity. According to a 2016 review, research suggests TIF can provide lasting improvements in GERD symptoms for up to 6 years and may reduce the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in around 75% of people.
It’s important to note that your doctor may only consider surgery as a last resort if medications and lifestyle factors are not enough to manage the condition.
Healthcare professionals will often recommend you try to manage your symptoms through medication before looking into more invasive options, like surgery. Medications don’t cure GERD permanently, but they can effectively reduce symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.
Common types of GERD medication include:
Antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach and provide quick, short-term relief from heartburn. Many brands of antacids are available over the counter at your local pharmacy.
Popular antacid brands include:
Side effects of antacids can include constipation or diarrhea.
H2 receptor blockers
Histamine-2 (H2) receptor blockers reduce how much acid your stomach produces. Taking them can provide relief from heartburn for 4 to 10 hours.
Common H2 receptor blockers include:
Healthcare professionals do not recommend taking H2 receptors for more than 2 weeks without consulting a doctor.
PPIs are among the most common medications for managing GERD. They work by blocking the production of acid in your stomach.
Their effect is longer than that of antacids and H2 receptor blockers. It can take a few days before you feel their full benefits and are most effective when you take them before eating.
A PPI called omeprazole is among the top 10 most-prescribed drugs in the United States.
Common PPIs include:
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Prokinetics are medications that increase the contractions of the muscles in your esophagus and stomach. This makes food and stomach acid move faster through the digestive system, which can reduce heartburn in some people.
Common prokinetics include:
- metoclopramide (Reglan)
- domperidone (Motilium)
Other medication options
Research into GERD treatment options is ongoing, with new medications being continuously explored.
Less common GERD medications include:
- Metoclopramide Odt: A form of metoclopramide that dissolves quickly in the mouth to provide quick relief.
- Gimoti: An FDA-approved prokinetic drug for treating GERD. It can also help reduce nausea and vomiting.
- Aciphex sprinkle: A sprinkle form of rabeprazole. You can add it to foods or liquids if you have difficulty swallowing pills.
- Rabeprazole DR sprinkle: A delayed-release sprinkle form of rabeprazole that provides a slower release of the drug for longer-lasting relief. You add it to soft foods or drinks.
- Baclofen: A muscle relaxant that reduces the symptoms of GERD. It’s commonly available as an oral solution or a tablet. Another type of baclofen is called Lioresal Intrathecal, which is delivered directly into the spinal fluid.
It’s best to talk with a doctor to determine the right medication for you. A doctor can also inform you of any potential side effects and alternatives to consider.
If you need help covering the cost of GERD medications, Optum Perks free Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication or search for a specific drug here.
Many lifestyle factors and home remedies can help relieve the symptoms of GERD while improving your overall digestive health. Some options may even cure the condition permanently.
Home remedies for GERD include:
- Avoiding trigger foods: Common trigger foods for GERD are fatty or fried foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee, and citrus fruits. Keeping a food diary and tracking which foods worsen your symptoms can help you identify and avoid these triggers.
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals: Eating smaller, more frequent meals can reduce the pressure on the LES and prevent acid reflux. On the contrary, eating large portions can worsen reflux.
- Losing excess weight: Excess weight can put pressure on the LES and cause acid reflux. Losing weight can relieve symptoms and improve overall digestive health. It may even cure GERD in some people.
- Avoiding lying down after eating: Lying down after eating can cause acid to flow back into the esophagus, worsening GERD symptoms. Wait at least a couple of hours after eating before lying down.
- Elevating the head of the bed: Slightly elevating your head can help prevent acid reflux by keeping acid in your stomach. If you sleep on your side, it may also help to sleep on the right side instead of the left.
- Avoiding alcohol: Drinking alcohol is another trigger for many people, so minimizing or eliminating your alcohol intake can reduce GERD.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking is associated with GERD. If you smoke, quitting may improve your symptoms.
- Exercising: Mild-to-moderate exercise can reduce your GERD symptoms, though excessive exercise may worsen them.
Until you commit to trying these options, it’s difficult to say if they will improve or cure your GERD.
That said, even if lifestyle strategies like losing excess weight or quitting smoking don’t cure your GERD, they will still benefit your overall health.
GERD can be a debilitating condition. Some people may be able to cure it permanently by finding an effective treatment.
Medications can relieve the symptoms of GERD, such as antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and PPIs. However, they don’t cure the condition permanently.
Meanwhile, certain home remedies and lifestyle changes may help you get rid of GERD for good. You can try avoiding trigger foods and lying down after eating, losing excess weight, exercising, and quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol, if applicable.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to cure GERD.
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