How is heartburn treated? A reflux problem is treated in 3 steps: 1. Lifestyle changes: Avoiding alcohol and eating less fatty foods may help. It is also advisable to lose weight, reduce smoking and alter eating and sleeping patterns. Taking small, frequent meals rather than large, heavy meals is recommended. 2. Drug therapy: Taking antacids may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. In severe cases drugs like ranitidine which reduce the amount of acid production may be prescribed. Drugs to strengthen the esophageal sphincter or relieve the symptoms may also help. 3. Surgery: Patients who do not respond well to drug therapy, may need to undergo a surgical procedure called anti-reflux surgery, the commonest being Nissen’s fundoplication. This operation may be done by an open procedure or by a laparoscope.