Some research suggests that inflammation in the esophagitis from GERD can take up to 8 weeks to heal with successful lifestyle changes and medications. However, these measures will not fully cure GERD.

Treatments can include a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Most people will notice symptom improvement to complete resolution with treatment.

This article reviews the possible timing of esophagitis from GERD healing, the various treatment options for GERD, and how they affect a person’s symptoms.

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) esophagitis is when the stomach’s content comes back up — referred to as reflux — into the esophagus. This results in inflammation and damage.

GERD esophagitis can cause mild to severe symptoms, including:

  • heartburn
  • regurgitation
  • neck pain
  • lump in the throat
  • increased saliva

The goal of therapy for esophagitis healing is to keep symptoms well managed and prevent complications. The esophagus may heal within 6–8 weeks with the following lifestyle changes and treatments.

Read more about GERD with esophagitis.

If a person is overweight or has obesity, weight loss may help improve GERD esophagitis. In some cases, reaching and maintaining a moderate weight may completely reverse this inflammation.

Possible weight loss strategies include:

  • physical activity
  • behavioral strategies
  • dietary modifications

In an older study from 2013, researchers noted that of over 330 participants, 65% saw the complete resolution of their GERD symptoms, and 15% saw the partial resolution. They noted the weight loss percentage had the largest impact on successful resolution.

If a person is considering weight loss, talking with a healthcare professional first can be helpful. They can help them determine if weight loss is a suitable option and if needed, assist them in creating a weight loss plan based on their medical needs.


In the study sample from the 2014 research, most people (81%) experienced a reduction in GERD symptoms over 6 months.

Doctors consider dietary changes a first-line treatment for GERD esophagitis, which suggests that it may be a fairly quick way to help heal some people.

Dietary changes can also help improve a person’s GERD symptoms. Many foods can aggravate symptoms of GERD. Examples include:

  • spicy foods
  • acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • chocolate
  • alcoholic drinks
  • high fat foods
  • coffee and other sources of caffeine
  • mint

A person should also avoid heavy, large meals before bed and remain upright for a few minutes to allow food to digest before reclining.

Dietary changes can also help a person in losing weight. A person should consider talking with a doctor or nutritionist to help tailor a plan to their needs and goals.


Older research showed a significant improvement 3 months after dietary interventions.

Read more about the GERD diet.

It can be helpful for a person to use pillows, wedges, or other devices to prop their head up when lying down. Experts recommend raising the head by about 6–8 inches to help alleviate symptoms at night.


A 2021 systematic review showed a reduction in symptom scores at 6 weeks following head-of-bed elevation interventions.

In addition to many other health benefits, stopping smoking could help reduce inflammation from GERD.

In a 2016 study, researchers noted that quitting smoking helped improve GERD and a person’s quality of life. Of those observed in the study who successfully quit, 43% noted improved symptoms.


Smoking relieved some GERD symptoms as quickly as 2 weeks after smoking cessation, but most found significant improvement by 12 weeks.

From an older study, among the groups, 12.5%, 11.0%, 33.3%, and 40.0% of these recognized complete symptom relief at 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks respectively.

Some symptoms cleared as early as 2 weeks when individuals quit smoking.

H2 blockers can help reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces.

These medications have a duration of action of 4–10 hours. These are useful for the on-demand treatment of occasional symptoms. H2 blockers are available in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription forms for mild to severe GERD.

They can help the esophagus heal but are less effective than proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Doctors often recommend antacids for mild acid reflux and GERD inflammation. A person can use either OTC or prescription strengths.

People should not use them every day or for severe symptoms unless a doctor directs them to, as they can also lead to side effects, including diarrhea or constipation.

Relief from antacids is fairly immediate but tends to be temporary and short term.

PPIs can help reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. They can also help heal the esophagus and are generally more effective than H2 blockers. They are available in both OTC and prescription forms.

A doctor will likely prescribe PPIs for long-term treatment. In clinical practice, medical professionals define this as 4–8 weeks.

Though generally safe and effective, safety during long-term use remains not fully understood. Experts suggest they can increase a person’s risk of developing a Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. They may also cause headaches, constipation, or upset stomach.

Several procedures may help to correct GERD and may treat chronic GERD if symptoms do not improve with lifestyle and medication changes or if the person wishes to stop taking medications.

Procedures include:

  • Fundoplication: This is for long-term relief and involves sewing the top of the stomach around the end of the esophagus to put pressure on the lower portion and reduce symptoms.
  • Bariatric surgery: A doctor may recommend this procedure to aid with weight loss and help reduce GERD symptoms through reduced weight in the long term.
  • Endoscopy: This is a rarely used procedure that involves doctors inserting a tube into the throat. Through this tube, they can sew the stomach around the lower esophagus or inject radioactive material to help long-term relief of GERD symptoms.

Often lifestyle changes combined with medications can help improve inflammation from GERD over time. A person may find that diet, exercise, and weight loss cause their symptoms to disappear completely.

In cases where lifestyle changes and medication are not enough, a doctor may recommend surgery to help correct the esophagus and help improve symptoms.

Below are some frequently asked questions.

What are the signs GERD is healing?

People may notice their symptoms lessen, become less frequent, or go away entirely. It’s important that they consider talking with a doctor about reducing their medication usage as they notice their symptoms improving.

Can GERD be cured?

Evidence suggests that lifestyle changes, like losing weight, and taking medications can significantly improve or eliminate GERD symptoms. Experts generally recommend losing weight if a person is overweight or has obesity, stopping smoking if they smoke, changing eating habits, and taking medications as directed to help improve or eliminate GERD symptoms.

What is the fastest way to heal GERD?

Taking an antacid before or after a meal may help with mild symptoms. However, for long-term healing, it’s important that a person focuses on the following steps:

  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • changing their diet and food intake
  • stopping smoking if they smoke
  • taking medications like PPIs as recommended and prescribed

GERD treatments focus on a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery or other procedure to help correct the condition.

With successful management, a person may find their symptoms are reduced significantly or go away entirely.