Some research suggests that inflammation in the esophagus (esophagitis) from gastroesophageal reflux disease (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.
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,
- 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.
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
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
- spicy foods
- acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes
- alcoholic drinks
- high fat foods
- coffee and other sources of caffeine
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.
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
In addition to many other health benefits, stopping smoking could help reduce inflammation from GERD.
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.
These medications have a duration of action of
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.
Relief from antacids is
PPIs can help
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.
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.
- 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
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?
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.