Diet and Exercise Essentials

Worried You Have GERD?

Frequent heartburn may mean you have GERD. Learn more about GERD, what causes it, and natural treatments that can bring relief.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn - twice a week or more - you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, the feeling of a ball in the throat, a bitter taste and respiratory problems, including aggravation of asthma. Diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.

If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as angina, which has similar symptoms. Discuss any medications you are taking: some can trigger reflux. If you are started on an acid-suppressing medication, try to view this as temporary relief while you work on the root concerns, as the long-term side effects are concerning. If you want to naturally treat GERD try the following: 

  1. Keep a food and beverage journal. It can help you identify, track and later avoid triggers.
  2. Eat small, frequent meals.
  3. Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction and help reduce GERD.
  4. Avoid lying down after eating.
  5. Try a 3-week elimination of common food sensitivities like gluten and dairy.
  6. Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
  7. Sip chamomile tea or chew DGL licorice tablets. Both can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
  8. Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus. Raising the head of the bed by a few inches can also help.


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