I have had GERD for 24 years. I used to have issues constantly but now I mostly have it under control. I rarely have an issue where I can’t identify and correct the cause.
My problem started when I was 13. My flap that separated my stomach and esophagus did not close all the way and I had lots of stomach acid coming into my throat.
Steps that I took:
- Tried everything with gastrointestinal doctors, including prescription medicines and steroids to help heal my throat. Still, I had stabbing pains in my chest and esophagus was swollen to half it’s normal size.
- I had surgery (Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication) to wrap stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at age 18. This caused it’s own pain due to eating too much food would put pressure on the wrap.
- As a result of the surgery, my diet was severely limited (liquid diet). I essentially eliminated most food variety and has to very slowly introduce new foods.
Steps 2 and 3 are what worked. The surgery helped to keep the acid from entering my throat just from normal activity, including sleeping.
However, just as important was the food variety restriction AFTER that. Since I was getting reflux regardless of what I ate, I never would have figured out my problem foods. Once the flap was closing correctly, then I could get actual useful feedback when I ate the wrong foods.
Also, it’s key to think of your digestive tract like skin. If you take a knife to it (eat something you definitely can’t tolerate) it will be damaged immediately. But, if you just mildly abuse it, it might be fine or be painful. You can rub your skin on carpet once and it’s probably fine, but rub your skin in it all the time and eventually you bleed. It’s the same with eating foods that mildly irritate you.
And don’t underestimate the power of time of day that you eat, general stress levels, getting good sleep, etc.
The triggers for me are:
Very bad: Cinnamon, tomato sauce (raw tomatoes are fine), anything spicy, chocolate (“Dutched” or processed with alkali), acidic foods (OJ, lemonade, cranberries), caffeine
Problematic: alcohol, greasy food, eating anything but carbs after 7:30 pm, emotional stress, too little sleep
No issue: physical exercise
Also, various muscles and fascia pull on each other in the body. Make sure you don’t have much tension. I find if my lats are tight I am more prone to heart burn.
I hope this helps. I probably forgot a few of my triggers. It’s a life long process learning what the problem issues are.