Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease | GERD Awareness

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease | GERD Awareness

An estimated one in every five American adults suffers from GERD, a chronic condition caused by the weakening of the gastroesophageal valve, allowing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus. If left untreated, GERD can be a lifelong disease leading to symptoms ranging from mild to severe, depending on the individual. Longstanding GERD can cause serious ulcerations and narrowing, eventually leading to precancerous changes known as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

Reaching for antacids more than twice a week indicates it’s time to see a doctor. If current medications aren’t effective, alternative outpatient endoscopic and minimally invasive therapies may be suitable. There are more treatment options available than ever, and a GERD expert can help select the best choice suited to individual needs.

GERD is caused by an anatomical issue, not an acid problem. Stomach acid is crucial for digestion, killing harmful bacteria, and aiding the absorption of iron, vitamin B12, and other nutrients. While acid-eliminating medications may offer symptom control in the initial stages, they do not stop or prevent reflux, nor do they prevent Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer, which has become more common in recent decades. Those dependent on daily medication may develop severe GERD complications even with few symptoms.

Typical symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux), and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Atypical symptoms can include a sensation of a lump in the throat, shortness of breath/asthma, chronic cough, chronic sore throat, laryngitis and hoarseness, sleep disruptions, dental erosions, and non-cardiac chest pain.

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