If you are in the habit of popping an antacid every time heartburn strikes you, think again. If the antacid or drinking cold milk does not provide you with the relief you want, then you might be in for a serious bout of Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Healthcare professionals are treating this as a major issue since there is a long term health risk involved with untreated GERD. It can actually be a debilitating disorder where a patient finds it tough to lead a normal life due to the pain, cough and sleepless nights.

It can damage your esophagus leading cancer even. If you find yourself seeking OTC drugs to treat this problem then you need to seek professional medical help. Here is what you should be doing to avoid the heartburns on a regular basis:

1. Get the right tests and endoscopies done so that your doctor can prescribe you the right medication that helps regulate the production of acid in the stomach besides protecting the esophagus from damage

2. Avoid trigger foods. Keep track of the kinds of food that cause acidity in your stomach. Try to take less of citrus foods. Also take less of chocolate, coffee, alcohol, peppermint, and tomatoes.

3. Avoid overeating. Your aim should be not to get your stomach juices in hyperactive mode. Eating light meals in close intervals help control GERD

4. Eat at least three hours before going to bed so that your body gets time to digest.

5. Avoid smoking as nicotine is known to trigger GERD. Avoid smoking and drinking on an empty stomach.

6. Keep your weight under control, and be regular with your medication. Since it is a combination of lifestyle change and right medication which can help in treating this problem.