It’s perfectly normal to experience heartburn from time to time \u2014 especially after eating a hefty meal or spicy foods. But heartburn more than twice a week could mean something more serious.\nHeartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, a digestive disorder\u00a0that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscles between the esophagus and stomach.\nHeartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Learn more about #GERD. Click To Tweet\nRELATED:\u00a05 Foods to Avoid If You Have Troubles with Your Digestive System\nIf you have GERD, these muscles become weak and the sphincter cannot function properly, allowing acid or stomach juices to leak, or reflux, back into your esophagus. This can be uncomfortable and cause a burning sensation in your chest and throat.\nTreatment may vary depending on the severity of the disease. James D. Luketich, MD, chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UPMC, says patients can consider several treatment options for GERD.\nTreating GERD with Diet and Lifestyle Changes\n“The first treatment for everyone is looking closely at your lifestyle, what things lead to reflux and what things aggravate your reflux. Sometimes it is as simple as dietary changes,” says Dr. Luketich.\nThe first step is avoiding foods that weaken\u00a0your LES. If you have GERD, you should stay away from the following:\n\nFried or fatty foods\nSoda or carbonated beverages\nCoffee, tea, or other drinks that contain caffeine\nSpicy foods\n\nIn addition to your diet, simple lifestyle changes can also help relieve GERD. Being overweight can increase reflux, so losing weight and exercising are important steps. Eating slower and smaller portions can also help reduce your GERD symptoms. Learn more about the right diet for GERD.\nSimple lifestyle changes in addition to diet can help relieve symptoms of #GERD Click To Tweet\nIf you have GERD, you should avoid alcohol and tobacco as these products weaken or relax the sphincter.\nMedications for GERD\nIf diet and lifestyle changes do not work, you may look to certain medicines to treat GERD. Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, can help reduce the painful burning in your chest and throat, but if you find yourself taking antacids for more than two weeks, you should talk with your doctor.\nSurgery for GERD\nFor some people, lifestyle changes and medications are not enough, and the final solution may be surgery.\nOne of the newest surgical options for treating GERD is minimally invasive surgery, a procedure that uses tiny incisions and typically only requires an overnight stay in the hospital.\nWhen facing surgery, it is important to talk to your doctor and choose the option that is best for you.\n“You might need help making the decision to have surgery. Perhaps with some changes we can avoid surgery, but if it is necessary you want to have it in a place that is extremely experienced,” says Dr. Luketich.\nDiet and lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes even surgery are all possible options for treating GERD. If you have GERD, it is important to speak to your doctor to develop a treatment plan that best fits you and your needs.