Treatment Overview

The goals of GERD treatment are:

  • To bring the symptoms under control so that the individual feels better;
  • heal the esophagus of inflammation or injury;
  • manage or prevent complications such as Barrett’s esophagus or stricture;
  • and maintain the symptoms of GERD in remission so that daily life is unaffected or minimally affected by reflux.

A diagnosis of GERD should be made by a physician. The disease can usually be diagnosed based on the presentation of symptoms alone. GERD can occur, however, with no apparent symptoms. Diagnostic tests may be used to confirm or exclude a diagnosis or to look for complications such as inflammation, stricture, or Barrett’s esophagus.

GERD is a recurrent and chronic disease for which long-term medical therapy is usually effective. It is important to recognize that chronic reflux does not resolve itself. There is not yet a cure for GERD. Long-term and appropriate treatment is necessary.

Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, medications, surgery, or a combination of methods. Over-the-counter preparations provide only temporary symptom relief. They do not prevent recurrence of symptoms or allow an injured esophagus to heal. They should not be taken regularly as a substitute for prescription medicines – they may be hiding a more serious condition. If needed regularly, for more than two weeks, consult a physician for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

References

  1. Richter JE, Katz PO, Waring JP. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. IFFGD Brochure; GERD Questions and Answers.
  2. Thompson WG. Heartburn: nothing to do with the heart.
  3. El-Serag HB, Graham DY. Contemporary diagnosis and management of upper gastrointestinal diseases. Handbooks in Healthcare, Newtown, 2004.
  4. Pace F, Costamagna G, Penagini R, Repici A, Annese V. Review article: endoscopic antireflux procedures – an unfulfilled promise? Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2008 Mar 1;27(5):375-84. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

Further Reading from the Learning Center

  • Keeping a daily diary for a week can help keep track of specific food items and circumstances related to episodes of heartburn. The diary can serve as a vital tool to identify factors that worsen symptoms and when discussing symptoms with a physician. A printable version of IFFGD’s 7-day Diary is available for download.
  • Medical definitions
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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.

Our original content is authored specifically for IFFGD readers, in response to your questions and concerns.

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