New Advice on Treating GERD: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Reports on the Latest Research

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Recent research suggests that some lifestyle changes are more helpful than others for treating the symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Johns Hopkins Health Alerts tells you what you need to know about acid reflux, for prevention, pain relief, and minimal damage.

Johns Hopkins Health Alerts has just published a review of the new GERD guidelines, for safe, effective treatment of your acid reflux.

Treating GERD Effectively
There are four types of treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): lifestyle measures, medication, surgery, and endoscopic procedures.

Why it is important to treat GERD
Treating GERD is important. Untreated GERD can lead to serious complications, such as esophageal ulcers (nonhealing mucosal defects), esophageal strictures, Barrett's esophagus (a disorder of the cells lining the esophageal mucosa, which may lead to cancer), and even esophageal cancer.

Lifestyle changes to treat GERD
Doctors often recommend lifestyle changes as the first-line treatment for acid reflux. These measures can include elevating the head of the bed during sleep, not eating late at night, and avoiding alcohol or spicy foods.

New findings on effective treatments for GERD
However, a new study reported in "The Archives of Internal Medicine" (Volume 166, page 965) shows that NOT ALL of these changes are helpful in relieving GERD symptoms, and some may be unnecessarily restrictive.

Researchers looked at the results of 100 studies conducted on various lifestyle measures for GERD. Only losing weight and elevating the head of the bed showed a CLEAR BENEFIT in well-designed studies.

Other measures not found to be effective
In comparison, there was little evidence to support avoiding many suspected GERD triggers, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, citrus, carbonated beverages, fatty foods, and mint. The same was true for sleeping on your left side or avoiding food late at night.

Although there was evidence that some of these substances and practices can cause GERD symptoms, evidence was lacking that avoiding them will relieve symptoms.

Bottom line advice on treating GERD
However, if you experience worsening GERD symptoms after eating certain foods or drinking specific beverages you should probably avoid them. In addition, you should certainly give lifestyle changes a chance before trying medication to relieve your GERD symptoms.

For the latest health alerts on GERD (acid reflux), sour stomach, and other digestive disorders, , please visit the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Digestive Disorders Topic Page at:
Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Digestive Disorders

This article is exceprted from the annual Johns Hopkins White Paper: Digestive Disorders. For more information about this book, please visit:
Johns Hopkins White Paper: Digestive Disorders

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JOAN MULLALLY
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