Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are the most common treatments for GERD. In the most severe cases, surgery may even be required. But regardless of how bad your GERD symptoms are, successfully fighting heartburn and acid reflux also requires some changes in lifestyle, ranging from the food you eat to the clothes you wear.
Life had been "rolling merrily along" for Susan Schmaeling, who had never had any serious health problems. Then, at age 46, she suddenly started to have painful and constant heartburn. She stopped eating some of her favorite foods and gobbled heartburn medication, but nothing seemed to relieve her gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A test revealed that she had a hiatal hernia, a condition in which a bit of the stomach bulges upward into the chest cavity. Schmaeling researched her surgical options and chose a procedure in which pleats are sewn into the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Schmaeling says the surgery was an "incredible success." Now 47, Schmaeling is GERD-free and lives in Houston, where she works in public relations and marketing for nonprofits and cultural organizations.