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GERD Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
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Care Plan

1

First steps to consider

  • Most milder cases (once or twice a week) of acid reflux or heartburn can be treated at home.
  • Try diet changes and OTC antacids
2

When you may need a provider

  • Acid reflux or heartburn more than twice a week
  • Moderate to severe symptoms

Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Black tarry stool
  • Vomiting

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All treatments for GERD
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Read more about GERD care options

When to see a healthcare provider

You should consider seeing a healthcare provider if your gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms like acid reflux and heartburn are not getting better after about 2 weeks of home treatments.

GERD should be treated because, over time, stomach acid can cause long-term damage to your esophagus.

GERD symptoms can mimic more serious conditions like heart disease. So it’s important to see a healthcare provider if you’re not sure you have GERD. Older adults should talk to a doctor if they have acid reflux to rule out heart disease.

Getting diagnosed for GERD

Many people with GERD symptoms can be treated without getting a definite diagnosis. But if treatments aren’t helping, your doctor may recommend an endoscopy, which can accurately diagnose GERD. In the procedure, a gastroenterologist (digestive disease specialist) uses a thin scope to take a sample (biopsy) of your stomach wall to send to the laboratory.

What to expect from your visit

  • A doctor will discuss your current treatments and any OTC medications you’re taking.
  • They may recommend prescription-strength GERD medications to reduce stomach acid.
  • There are different types of medications they can try or they may try higher doses to find a treatment plan that works.
  • Certain types of medications may also stop the acid reflux from damaging the esophagus.
  • Surgery may be needed if symptoms are not controlled by GERD medications or for people who cannot tolerate medications.
  • The most common procedure is a Nissen Fundoplication, which tightens the sphincter muscle. This is often recommended to people who have large hiatal hernias—where the upper part of the stomach bulges through an opening in the diaphragm.

Prescription GERD medications

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Protanprozole (Protonix)
  • Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)

Types of GERD providers

  • A primary care provider can treat mild to moderate symptoms.
  • A gastroenterologist is a digestive disease specialist, who can do additional testing and may be more knowledgeable about treatment options.
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FAQ

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