Major recent advances in the diagnosis and understanding of gastroesophageal reflux disease have afforded the practicing clinician a number of therapeutic options to treat the increasingly recognized affected patient population. With highly effective acid-suppressive therapies available, simple life-style modifications, such as selective food and medicine avoidance, weight loss, smoking cessation, elevation of the head of the bed, and the judicious use of antacids and alginate, have been relegated to a minor, if any, role in the management of these patients. The validity of these recommendations, however, remains consistent with our current understanding of the pathogenesis of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Although few well-designed placebo-controlled trials have been conducted, a review of the medical literature indicates an appreciable efficacy of these interventions, which are founded on well-studied physiologic determinants of gastroesophageal reflux. Most patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease can be managed by reassurance and simple life-style adjustments alone. The therapy for those with chronic or relapsing disease should always include the adjunctive reinforcement of these simple, efficacious, and cost-effective measures.
(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:448-454)