GERD 101: What You Should Know

November 29, 2012

(iTriage) After dinner you’re experiencing some painful heartburn, it almost feels like a burning in your chest. You start to feel some regurgitation. This might sound all so familiar if you find yourself suffering from GERD. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “GERD happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly, thus allowing stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it.” GERD affects up to 1 in 5 or more of adult men and women in the United States, but many times the disease goes unrecognized.

What symptoms are associated with GERD?

Sensation of food stuck in the throat
Feeling like you are choking or like your throat is tight
Acidic or sour taste in the mouth (acid indigestion)
Difficult or painful swallowing
Chest pain.

So, what can you do to ease the symptoms or get rid of GERD all together? According to Dr. J. Robert Evans, a Gastroenterologist and Heartburn Surgeon, “Treatment is usually aimed at reducing the acid. Antacids such as TUMS, Rolaids and Mylanta neutralize acid. H2Ras such as ranitidine decrease acid production.” Dr. Evans notes that, “Stopping reflux may require surgery to tighten the lower esophagus, or non-surgical techniques such as TIF (Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication).”

According to Rebekah Langford, RD, CDN, a clinical dietitian who works at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, “those suffering from GERD may be get great relief out of knowing that symptoms can be greatly alleviated by simply changing the food one eats. Below are her recommendations:

What Foods Should I Avoid to Eliminate GERD Symptoms?

Caffeinated beverages
High fat foods, including:
2%/whole mile, cream, high-fat cheeses, high-fat yogurts
Fried meats, bacon, sausage, salami bologna, hot dogs
Other friend foods such as donuts, French fries, etc.

What Foods Should I Include in my GERD Diet?

Switch to low-fat/fat-free dairy products
Purchase lean meats, poultry and fish
Any grains without added fat
Fibrous fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes
Limit fat intake to 8 teaspoons a fat a day

“It’s important if you suffer from GERD to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which will aid in improving your GERD symptoms”, says Langford. Langford suggests after eating remain upright for at least 2 hours before lying down or reclining. Losing weight, even just 5 pounds, can also dramatically reduce the severity of your symptoms. If you have more questions or think you may be suffering from GERD, use your iTriage app or visit us at for helpful disease information.

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