Discharge Instructions for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when acid flows back from the stomach into the swallowing tube (esophagus).

Home care

These home care steps can help you handle GERD:

  • Stay at a healthy weight. Get help to lose any extra pounds (kilograms).

  • Don't lie down after meals.

  • Don't eat late at night.

  • Raise the head of your bed by 4 to 6 inches. You can do this by placing wooden blocks or bed risers under the head of your bed. Or you can put a wedge under the mattress.

  • Don't wear tight-fitting clothes.

  • Don't eat foods that might bother your stomach, such as:

    • Alcohol

    • Fat

    • Chocolate

    • Caffeine

    • Spearmint or peppermint

    • Citrus and other acidic foods

  • Talk with your healthcare provider if you are taking certain medicines. These can make GERD symptoms worse:

    • Calcium channel blockers

    • Theophylline

    • Anticholinergic medicines, such as oxybutynin and benzatropine

  • Start an exercise program. Ask your healthcare provider how to get started. Simple activities, such as walking or gardening, can help.

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

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

  • Take your medicines as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Don't take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, unless your healthcare provider advises them for certain health problems. 

  • If possible, don't take nitrates (heart medicines, such as nitroglycerin and isosorbide dinitrate).

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about treatment if you are pregnant. GERD can happen or get worse during pregnancy.

Follow-up care

Make a check-up visit as directed by our staff.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • 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

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2019
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.