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How to Figure Out Your GERD Triggers

How to Figure Out Your GERD Triggers

Have you ever finished a meal only to be met with that all-too-familiar burning sensation in your chest? You could be among the one-fifth of US adults with gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. 

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between your esophagus and stomach. When the LES doesn't close all the way or opens too often, stomach acid can make its way up into the esophagus.

Symptoms of GERD are uncomfortable and painful, and may include:

If these symptoms sound familiar, you may wonder how to pinpoint what exactly is causing your GERD flare-ups. Identifying your triggers can make a difference in managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.

At Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, our board-certified gastroenterologist, John M. Rivas, MD, is dedicated to helping patients like you navigate the complexities of GERD. 

With a patient-centered approach, Dr. Rivas seeks to identify the best lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, or even surgical options in extreme cases to manage your condition effectively.

Dr. Rivas also wants to give you the tools to avoid GERD flare-ups before they start. Keep reading to better understand what you can do to figure out your GERD triggers. 

Listen to your gut

Start by keeping a food diary. Jot down everything you eat and drink and any symptoms that follow. 

By listening to your gut and taking notes, you may identify patterns that can help you figure out your triggers over time. Common culprits include spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine, bubbly drinks, and alcoholic beverages.

Consider meal size and timing

It's not just what you eat, but how much and when. Large meals can put extra pressure on your LES, exacerbating symptoms, and eating too close to when you go to bed can cause reflux. 

Keep track of your meal size and when you eat to figure out if these factors play a role in your GERD flare-ups. If yes, try eating smaller, more frequent meals instead, and avoid eating close to bedtime to give your body time to digest before lying down.

Evaluate your sleeping position

Sleeping positions matter, too. Lying flat can make it easier for acid to creep up into your esophagus. 

Evaluate how you sleep to determine if your position is triggering GERD symptoms. Try elevating the head of your bed by a few inches to help keep acid where it belongs—in your stomach.

How the Rivas Digestive Center can help

Dr. Rivas and the team understand that living with GERD can be challenging. That’s why we’re committed to providing comprehensive care tailored to your specific needs. 

After a comprehensive exam and testing to confirm your diagnosis and rule out any underlying causes or contributing issues, Dr. Rivas creates a personalized GERD treatment plan that may include:

Lifestyle changes

Our team starts with the things you do every day that might affect your GERD symptoms. This includes helping you identify your triggers and recommending specific dietary adjustments.

We also talk to you about the best sleeping position to minimize your symptoms, the right exercises to help you maintain a healthy weight—and when to perform them so you don’t trigger reflux. 

In addition, your provider reviews other practices that can affect GERD, such as quitting smoking or the clothes you wear. For example, tight clothing can squeeze your stomach area, pushing acid up into your esophagus. 

Medication management

Whether you’re taking over-the-counter antacids or prescription medications, your Rivas Digestive Center provider finds and manages the right treatment for you. And if something in your health changes, we can adjust as needed to keep you pain-free.


Sometimes GERD is severe and no amount of lifestyle changes or medications can do enough to manage symptoms. In this case, Dr. Rivas discusses surgical interventions that can provide long-term relief. 

If you’re tired of letting GERD control your life, learn how we can help you identify your triggers and better manage your symptoms. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida.

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