If you've been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, your doctor has likely prescribed medication to keep your symptoms under control. However, many patients find that medication alone is not enough to prevent the frequent heartburn symptoms associated with this condition. In order to get tour GERD under control, you're also going to want to make some lifestyle changes, which include the following:
Leave a couple of hours before dinner and bedtime.
If you're used to eating dinner late at night, or even grabbing a late night snack before you doze off, this habit will need to change. When you lay down to go to sleep with food still in your stomach, you are likely to suffer from reflux symptoms as those stomach contents make their way back up into your esophagus. It takes 4 - 5 hours for the stomach to completely empty into the small intestine after eating, so try to stop eating at least 4 hours before your bedtime.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
The more full your stomach is, the more likely you are to suffer from symptoms. Thus, it is better to eat many small meals throughout the day, rather than 2 - 3 large meals. If you work outside the home, pack yourself various snack-size items, such as a single sandwich, a bag of crackers, and a few pieces of fruit. Instead of eating these all at your lunch hour, eat one item every couple of hours. When you get home, try eating two small dinners, spaced an hour or two apart, rather than one big meal.
Smoking tobacco weakens the muscles in your esophageal sphincter, which is the tight ring of muscle between your stomach and esophagus. This makes you more prone to GERD attacks. If you are a smoker, take serious steps to stop smoking now. Join a support group, or talk to your doctor about medications to help you quit. If someone in your home is a smoker, talk to them about quitting or at least only smoking outside so that you're not exposed to the secondhand smoke -- which can have the same effect on your esophageal muscles.
Once you start treating your GERD, it can take some time for your symptoms to ease. Make these lifestyle changes today, and then be patient. If you keep up with these changes and with your medication, you can expect to feel a whole lot better within a few weeks. Contact a company like Tampa Bay Reflux Center for more information.