Is There Really a Cure for GERD?

Man at kitchen table with heartburn
Image Source/Getty Images

If you go on the Internet, you will be able to find ads popping up that will lead you to many websites that will tell you they have a cure for GERD. What they advertise is usually a "cure" for GERD's most common symptom, heartburn.

What does curing a disease mean? When talking about a disease or other health condition, people most often think of a cure as the putting a permanent end to that disease or condition and making a person healthy again.

Can Anything Cure GERD?

For some individuals, making some lifestyle modifications and changing their diet can improve their symptoms of heartburn. Others will be able to find relief by taking prescribed medications, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). There are also those individuals who use a home remedy in their treatment plan to control their heartburn.

Then there are those people who opt for a surgery called fundoplication. During the surgery, the upper part of the stomach (fundus) is gathered, wrapped and sutured (sewn) around the lower part of the esophagus. This allows the lower part of the esophagus to pass through a small tunnel made of the stomach muscle. This will help prevent acid reflux and strengthen the valve between the esophagus and stomach, which helps stop acid from backing up into the esophagus.

Is the Heartburn Cured or Just Controlled?

The bottom line is that while these people use one of the above ways to control their heartburn and their heartburn may appear to be cured, this elimination of heartburn lasts only as long as the treatment plan is followed.

Once an individual returns to habits or diets that led to heartburn before, or stop taking their medications or other remedies, the heartburn returns. And with the fundoplication surgery, it can be a very effective in the treatment of the severe heartburn that can occur with GERD, it doesn't have 100% success rate.

For some patients, the surgery doesn't completely eliminate their heartburn, and they will need to continue taking medication. There are other patients who are heartburn-free for a period of time after surgery, only to begin to suffer from heartburn symptoms again months or years later. Also, fundoplication surgery is not ideal for all patients who suffer from chronic heartburn or GERD. Your doctor would discuss your options, and decide whether you are a good candidate for this surgery.

Despite advertisements to the contrary, no immediate cure, with the ability to get off all medications and never suffer from heartburn again, has been shown to work in the typical person with heartburn. Unfortunately, therefore, GERD, in general, cannot be cured at present. However, it can be effectively managed in almost everyone with medications and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, surgery is considered. Surgery does not cure the underlying cause of GERD, but it can help keep acid from getting back up into the esophagus. A doctor can evaluate the condition and advise on an appropriate treatment plan.


"Heartburn Or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)" American College of Gastroenterology

"Information You Can Stomach - Heartburn and GERD FAQ." The American College of Gastroenterology