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How Long Does GERD Take To Heal? Dietitian Approved Tips

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How Long Does GERD Take To Heal? Dietitian Approved Tips

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • GERD happens when stomach acid flows up the esophagus and causes a painful burning sensation behind the sternum or an acid taste in the back of the throat or mouth.
  • Healing from GERD takes time, and your treatment plan will vary depending on the severity of the condition. 
  • A dietitian can help you determine which foods trigger GERD symptoms and make a plan for which foods may help you start healing.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that requires life-long management.

Medical treatments and lifestyle changes can start the healing process of your esophagus and reduce symptoms, but how quickly you heal depends on several factors. 

This article discusses the time it may take to heal from GERD, including factors that affect healing time, how to manage GERD symptoms, and tips for following a GERD-friendly diet

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How Long Does GERD Take to Heal?

Acid reflux, or heartburn, is a less severe and more temporary condition than GERD when stomach acid flows into the esophagus.

This sometimes happens during pregnancy or when bending over or lying down right after eating

GERD is a chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus.

The regular backflow of stomach acid irritates the esophagus lining, leading to various symptoms and possible complications. 

A weak esophageal sphincter is the most common cause of stomach acid black flow.

When working properly, the sphincter allows food to enter the stomach but prevents it from flowing back into the esophagus. 

Healthcare professionals typically diagnose GERD based on presenting symptoms and may do imaging studies or test the pH of your saliva.

Once you have a diagnosis of GERD, you can make lifestyle changes, take medications, and possibly undergo surgical treatment to help prevent stomach acid backflow.

However, there is no specific timeline for how quickly you can heal from GERD, as many factors affect healing time. 

Factors That Affect Healing Time 

Several factors affect how long it takes for your esophagus to heal once you start treatment.

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Lifestyle changes 

Healing your esophagus involves making lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals, weight management, avoiding trigger foods, smoking cessation, and not eating close to bedtime.

How well you incorporate these changes factors into how quickly you heal from GERD.

Medications

Depending on how severe your GERD is, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), to reduce stomach acid.

These medications may reduce symptoms, but how quickly they work depends on how your body reacts to the medications.

Underlying conditions 

If your GERD is related to a medical condition, how well you and your healthcare provider can address those conditions factors into your healing process. 

Managing GERD Symptoms

Heartburn and regurgitation are the most common symptoms of GERD. Heartburn can feel like a painful sensation behind your breastbone that may spread into your neck.

Regurgitation is when you feel and taste stomach acid in your mouth. 

Other uncomfortable symptoms of GERD may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Painful swallowing.
  • Burping.
  • Upper stomach pain.
  • Nausea.

You can do several things to help manage your GERD symptoms while healing. 

  • Avoid lying down for three hours after eating.
  • Elevate the head of your bed about six inches while you sleep by using a wedge pillow or putting blocks under your mattress.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Take the medications that your healthcare provider prescribed. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

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Dietitian Approved Tips for a GERD-Friendly Diet 

Here are several tips for following a GERD-friendly diet to help heal your esophagus. 

Avoid Trigger Foods

Foods that trigger GERD symptoms can differ from person to person.

However, studies have shown the following foods tend to be the most problematic.

  • Acidic foods (tomatoes, lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit).
  • High-fat foods (fried foods, ice cream, whole milk, desserts, baked goods, whole-fat cheese, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, ribs).
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Chocolate.
  • Coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
  • Mint.
  • Onions and garlic.
  • Carbonated beverages.

Incorporate High-Fiber Foods

Consuming a diet with high fiber may help improve your GERD symptoms. 

Foods high in fiber include:

  • Fruits: Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, pears, apples, figs.
  • Vegetables: Artichokes, peas, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, avocado.
  • Legumes: Navy bean, white bean, lima bean, mung bean, black bean, pinto bean.
  • Whole grains: Bran or shredded wheat cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat bread.
  • Seeds: Pumpkin, chia, sunflower, flax.
  • Nuts: Almonds, chestnut, pistachio, hazelnut.

Consume Lean Proteins and Healthy Fats 

Lean proteins and healthy fats help reduce stomach acid, and studies show they are associated with reducing GERD symptoms. 

Eat more:

  • Tuna, salmon, and sardines.
  • Skinless poultry.
  • Eggs.
  • Nuts.
  • Lentils.
  • Seeds.
  • Lean ground beef.
  • Pork loin.
  • Olive oil.

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Avoid Eating Before Bedtime

Laying down too soon after eating may increase pressure in your stomach and cause GERD symptoms. 

A good rule of thumb is to wait at least three hours after eating before lying down. 

Another tip is to drink a cup of warm chamomile or ginger tea before bed, as these teas can help reduce inflammation. 

Eat Smaller Meals

Decreasing how much you eat at each meal can help decrease the pressure in your stomach.

Instead of eating three larger meals daily, focus on eating smaller meals throughout the day. 

Be sure to maintain proper hydration between meals, and if you want to reduce inflammation further, try sipping pure aloe vera juice before eating your meals. 

Takeaway

Healing from GERD requires incorporating several changes into your lifestyle, such as diet changes, taking new medications, managing a healthy weight, smoking cessation, and treating underlying conditions. 

How long it takes to heal varies from person to person.

However, successfully working with your healthcare provider and making these lifestyle changes may dramatically reduce or eliminate your GERD symptoms over time. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

An acid reflux dietitian can help show you which foods you are eating that may aggravate your GERD symptoms.

Working within your dietary preferences, they can help formulate a meal plan you can follow that will help your GERD start to heal and reduce symptoms. 

Find a dietitian that accepts insurance through Nourish.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for GERD to settle down?

How long it takes for your GERD symptoms to settle down depends on several factors, like your willingness and commitment to make lifestyle changes, how well your body responds to GERD medications, and what the underlying cause of your GERD is.

However, by working with your medical provider and making these changes, you can find relief from your GERD symptoms.

How do you know when GERD is healing?

When your GERD starts to heal, you may start noticing you are not experiencing as many GERD symptoms.

This may include not feeling pain behind your sternum as much, not having stomach regurgitation frequently, or not burping as often.

How long does a GERD flare last?

GERD can flare up after eating foods that trigger more acid production or large meals that increase the pressure in your stomach.

How long this lasts may vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the GERD.

When the stomach can digest the food and move it into the intestines, you may feel relief from the flare.

References

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