Can I control my GERD? Brainstorming question and observations

I am planning on tracking my GERD. After years of trying at-home remedies and seeing a gastroenterological specialist (and being put on pretty serious drugs) I am still not finding much relief from the symptoms. Here is my brainstorming paragraph of questions and my plan for what to observe. I welcome feedback and advise. One concern of mine is the large amount of stuff that I want to track. I plan on doing a 2 week trial, starting today, of tracking these and see if it is doable.

Question: What is causing the GERD? Can I control it?

Is the GERD I experience caused by a present action or actions of my doing or is it the result of physiological causes over which I have no control?
How many times a day do I need to treat the symptoms with my usual 3 chewable tablets of 400 mg of DGL?
Does it matter what foods I eat or what time of day I eat? Or what I do directly after eating? Are the thoughts that I am thinking just before I treat the symptoms with DGL related to the frequency of symptoms?
In other words, if I am worrying or thinking negative thoughts, will there more likely be symptoms?
If it is caused by a hiatal hernia, does the position of my body contribute to the occurrence of symptoms (like bending over which would put pressure on the stomach and may cause acid to flow up)?
Does the amount of work or volunteer work vs. relaxation and recreation contribute to a greater level of stress that may increase the symptoms?
Does the way I move my body contribute to the tension in my stomach which may contribute to the symptoms of acid reflux (am I moving gracefully or am I moving in a jerky manner shortly before I treat the symptoms with DGL)?
Does my mood affect how many times I need to treat symptoms?
What mitigating efforts on my part will reduce the symptoms?

List of things to observe:

Amount of DGL used to treat symptoms
Action performed when DGL was used
Time of day of DGL consumption
Position of the body when DGL was consumed
Thoughts present in the mind when DGL was consumed
Jerky or Graceful movements at time of DGL consumption?
Food consumed
What time of day that food was consumed
Hours of work/service and hours of recreation/relaxation in that day
Hours of exercise
Current treatments


The list is very exhaustive! For me personally, other factors that seem to lead to worse acid reflux are:

  • sleeping position (sleeping on my right side or with my pillow not elevated makes symptoms worse)
  • related to time of day food was consumed, number of hours between dinner and sleep (eating dinner earlier has seemingly helped ease my symptoms a bit)

In terms of your measurement strategy, for me it would feel overwhelming to observe all those things simultaneously. However, if you are up to recording data for all those variables, more power to you! If it does start to feel overwhelming, perhaps you can do multiple observational trials and focus on different variables in each.

I’m guessing this observational trial is a precursor to experimental ones where you try to make changes to factor(s) that seem especially relevant to your GERD symptoms based on the observational trial results? For me, I had to find the just right combination of lifestyle factors to get symptoms under control (e.g. avoiding eating certain foods, eating an earlier dinner, lessening intense core exercises, practicing not sleeping on my right side like I was used to, spacing out my exercise time over the whole week, etc.). If I deviate from those practices, the acid reflux lets me know haha.

Best of luck!

Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. I admire you for the awareness, patience, and consistency that you must have brought to bear on your effort to free yourself from acid reflux. I also have had to learn to not sleep on my right side and, now, even the left side won’t do most of the time. I also sleep on a 14’’ incline, which is pretty uncomfortable.

Thanks for sharing your solutions with me. I find in them things that I am also observing and trying to change or have changed in myself: eating an earlier dinner, avoiding certain foods, and dropping core exercises. I am also trying to space out meals from exercise which naturally limits the amount I can do.

And you are right: this is an exhaustive list. It could very well be an exhausting one, too, so I thank you for your suggestion about possibly breaking it up into shorter observational periods with fewer variables. I do have a strong determination and a lot of willpower, so I may just go forward with it as it is but it is nice having a back-up plan.

As you mentioned, I am using this ultimately as a means of making effective changes and finding effective treatments

I forgot to mention that two other habits I’ve developed (that seem to help with symptoms) are drinking hot water (at least every morning) and eating food slowly/chewing thoroughly. I was used to eating very quickly in the past and primarily drinking chilled water, so both these habits were difficult to establish.

Your determination and willpower will come in useful when trying out any additional lifestyle interventions you decide on. Once/if they become habits though, you’re set. A potential difficulty is the slow speed with which you see results. It didn’t happen over night for me, and was a gradual reduction in symptoms. It was very rewarding though for me when I did feel my GERD symptoms were getting better, which reinforced the habits I was trying to learn. I still remember the satisfaction I felt when I was able to gradually decrease the elevation of my head pillow, without a worsening in symptoms. Hope you experience that too!

Wow, thanks for sharing. It’s both comforting and encouraging to me to hear that someone else has gone through a similar experience and came out the other end successful. I will keep those other habits in mind.

Did I ever mention the time that I was prescribed Prevacid for lousy eyesight? I had gone back to school to work on a Master’s degree, which involved a lot of reading. Because of my crappy eyesight and my poorly fitted contact lenses, and because I wasn’t doing my reading in a bright enough room, I inadvertently ended up sitting for hours every night hunched over reading and hilighting papers. This terrible posture, especially in combination with my not-so-great diet and increasingly sedentary lifestyle caused weight gain and upper back strain and inflammation that impinged a nerve going from my spinal cord to my stomach resulting in dysregulated (always on) acid production in my stomach. After numerous expensive and/or dangerous tests (including a spinal tap to collect some CSF), I was diagnosed with GERD, and put on Prevacid (in increasingly strong doses), which I would presumably be on for life. Then one day, one of the doctors asked me about my life habits and posture. I was sent for physical therapy to retrain my posture and strengthen my core musculature. Within days, I was 80% cured. Within a week, it was almost 100%. Getting active, losing 20 lbs, and buying stronger glasses and a brighter reading light finished getting me back to full health. Obviously, plenty of people suffer from completely legit illnesses, but if my story helps anyone reverse their problem, it will be a wonderful thing.

Based on a self-tracking study I did about 6 years I found low dose melatonin worked great. Its one of the few drugs which has been shown to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.

Thanks. I’ll try it.

It’s interesting that you should mention that. I’ve also noticed poor posture while sitting can contribute to acid reflux symptoms. My eyesight has also gotten a little worse over time and with a small chromebook screen, I’ve not been sitting up as straight as I could be. I went to the eye doctor and got new glasses but, for some reason, they are not that great, either and I am less motivated to go back again to get another eye exam anytime soon. However, I am getting a new laptop with a larger screen so that will help. I am also working on adjusting a forward-cross posture so perhaps that effort will also help to alleviate the symptoms. Your comment has helped me to become more aware of these factors. Thanks.

Have you done a test of H Pylori?