KENILWORTH, N.J., Nov. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which develops when reflux of gastric contents in the esophagus causes troublesome symptoms and/or complications. Although it's a relatively common condition, heartburn should not be ignored.
In a new editorial on MerckManuals.com, Kristle Lee Lynch, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania, outlines GERD's additional symptoms and the potential complications that can come with failure to treat the condition. Dr. Lynch also shares five ways to reduce heartburn and GERD symptoms.
1. Stay Upright for at Least 4 Hours After Eating
By four hours after a meal, around 90 percent of the food in your stomach has been digested. Avoid lying down during that time – including on the couch – to help digestion and minimize heartburn.
2. Avoid Fats (and Fiber)
Most people know that fatty foods can cause heartburn. The same goes for highly acidic food and drink. But many people don't realize food that's high in fiber can take a long time to digest, which can lead to GERD symptoms after a meal.
3. Skip the Tight Yoga Pants
Anything that puts pressure on the stomach can hinder digestion and may cause heartburn. Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes can help reduce symptoms.
4. Find a Medication that Works
Talk to your doctor about which medications might be right for you, from over-the-counter meds to prescribed proton pump inhibitors or histamine-2 blockers.
5. Commit to Lifestyle Changes
For overweight sufferers of GERD, the single most effective way to find relief is to lose the weight. Research has shown that patients who treat their GERD through weight loss have higher life satisfaction scores and better quality of life than those on medication.
Read more about GERD and its symptoms, including more about related conditions and who is at risk, in Dr. Lynch's editorial on MerckManuals.com
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