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Discharge Instructions for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a backflow of acid from the stomach into the swallowing tube (esophagus).

Home care

These home care steps can help you manage GERD:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds.

  • Avoid lying down after meals.

  • Avoid eating late at night.

  • Elevate the head of your bed by 6 inches. You can do this by placing wooden blocks under the head of your bed.

  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes.

  • Avoid foods that might irritate your stomach, such as the following:

    • Alcohol

    • Fat

    • Chocolate

    • Caffeine

    • Spearmint or peppermint

  • Talk to your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications. These medications can make GERD symptoms worse:

    • Calcium channel blockers

    • Theophylline

    • Anticholinergic medications such as oxybutynin and benzatropine

  • Begin an exercise program. Ask your doctor how to get started. You can benefit from simple activities, such as walking or gardening.

  • Break the smoking habit. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.

  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks a day.

  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Avoid over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

  • If possible, avoid nitrates (heart medications such as nitroglycerin and Isordil).

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical care

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Pain when swallowing

  • Feeling of food caught in your chest or throat

  • Pain in the neck, chest, or back

  • Heartburn that causes you to vomit

  • Vomiting blood

  • Black or tarry stools (from digested blood)

  • More saliva (watering of the mouth) than usual

  • Weight loss of more than 3% to 5% of your total body weight in a month

  • Hoarseness or sore throat that won’t go away

  • Choking, coughing, or wheezing


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