Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Most people diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus experience frequent heartburn and acid reflux. Medications can control these signs and symptoms, but changes to your daily life also may help. Consider trying to:
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you're overweight or obese, ask your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Three meals a day, with small snacks in between, may help you stop overeating. Continual overeating leads to excess weight, which aggravates heartburn.
- Avoid tightfitting clothes. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen, aggravating reflux.
- Eliminate heartburn triggers. Everyone has specific triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onion, caffeine, and nicotine may make heartburn worse.
- Avoid stooping or bending. Tying your shoes is OK. Bending over for a long time to weed your garden may not be, especially soon after eating.
- Don't lie down after eating. Wait at least three hours after eating to lie down or go to bed.
- Raise the head of your bed. Place wooden blocks under your bed to elevate your head. Aim for an elevation of six to eight inches. Raising your head by using only pillows isn't a good alternative.
- Don't smoke. Smoking may increase stomach acid. If you smoke, ask your doctor about strategies for stopping.
- Spechler SJ, et al. Barrett's esophagus. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Updated guidelines 2008 for the diagnosis, surveillance and therapy of Barrett's esophagus. Bethesda, Md.: American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/physicians/guidelines/BarrettsEsophagus08.pdf. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Azodo IA, et al. Barrett's esophagus. American College of Gastroenterology. http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/barretts.asp. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Spechler SJ, et al. American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement on the management of Barrett's esophagus. Gastroenterology. 2011;140:1084.
- Barrett's esophagus. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/barretts/index.htm. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Crockett SD, et al. Health-related quality of life in patients with Barrett's esophagus: A systematic review. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2009;7:613.
- Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/index.htm. Accessed March 28, 2011.
- Greenwald BD, et al. Cryotherapy for Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology. In press. Accessed May 23, 2011.