When it comes to digestion, what goes down shouldn’t come back up. However, this is what happens in the case of reflux, also known as heartburn. If this problem is recurring, it could be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

With GERD, the contents of your stomach come up into the esophagus, throat or mouth. The reflux of stomach acid into your esophagus causes that burning sensation. For many, GERD is caused by weakness in the valve between your stomach and esophagus that is supposed to prevent stomach contents from flowing back up.

A gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive issues, can help. Most important is to find out if you have the type of GERD that causes symptoms alone or the type that can lead to ongoing harm.

Often, lifestyle changes can help prevent or improve symptoms.

1. Keep a food diary

Track how you feel after eating.

2. Stay comfy

Avoid tight clothing around your stomach.

3. Size down

Practice proper por- tion control and eat smaller meals.

4. Rest easy

Stop eating 3 hours before lying down.

5. Eat smarter

Avoid certain foods associated with heartburn such as fried or fatty foods, chocoloate and peppermint. When it comes to drinks, stay away from alcohol, coffee (including decaf), as well as carbonated beverages. Some condiments like ketchup, mustard and vinegar can be too acidic—as are tomato sauces and citrus fruits or juices—and should also be avoided.

If these lifestyle changes don’t help, medications or other options may help alleviate discomfort. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.