If you feel a painful burning sensation in your chest after you eat, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is a classic symptom of GERD, but you may have other symptoms, too.

After you eat, food travels from your mouth down the esophagus to your stomach. Along the way, food passes through a one-way valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the opening to your stomach. Normally the LES opens when you swallow, allowing food to enter the stomach, then closes quickly. With GERD, the LES does not work normally, allowing food and stomach acid to travel back, or reflux into the esophagus.


  • Frequent heartburn or burping
  • Sour tasting fluid backing up into your mouth
  • Symptoms that get worse after you eat, bend over, or lie down
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing

Relieve the Pressure:

  • Eat smaller meals, even if you have to eat more often
  • Don’t lie down right after you eat. Wait a few hours for your stomach to empty
  • Avoid tight belts and tight fitting clothes
  • Lose excess weight

Watch Eating Habits and Avoid:

  • Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, alcohol and tobacco
  • Fatty, fried or spicy foods
  • Mint, chocolate, onions and tomatoes
  • Any foods that seem to irritate your stomach or cause pain

Raise Your Head:

Reflux is more likely to strike when you’re lying flat, because stomach fluid can flow backward more easily. Try raising the head of your bed 4-6 inches by sliding blocks under the legs at the head of your bed, or a wedge under the mattress. Do not prop your head on pillows. This increases pressure on your stomach, making GERD worse.