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GERD Awareness Week (Nov. 24–30)

11/25/2019
 GERD Awareness Week (Nov. 24–30)

GERD Awareness Week (Nov. 24–30)

Awareness Week

During the week of Thanksgiving, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders boosts people who suffer symptoms to see their doctors every year. November "24-30" 2019 marks this years observation. Currently, over 3 million Americans are affected by acid reflux.

What is GERD?
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a digestive disease where stomach acid comes back up the esophagus, or tube that food travels down. This can cause discomfort and possibly damage the esophagus. At the lower end of the esophagus a band of muscles, called the lower esophageal sphincter, work to stop acid back-flow from the stomach. With GERD this barrier is either weakened or compromised.

What Causes GERD
GERD can be caused by stomach issues such as distention, delayed emptying, or increased acid production. Hiatal hernias can also lead to GERD. Hiatal hernias occur when part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm (a muscle separating the chest and abdomen).

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of GERD can be different for everyone. Some people can have none to very mild symptoms, and have no damage to the tissue lining their esophagus. Heartburn and acid regurgitation or a bitter taste in the mouth are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms include belching, difficulty or painful swallowing, sudden excess saliva, chronic sore throat, laryngitis, and chronic cough. If you think you have GERD or are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to contact your physician.

Treatment
Diet and lifestyle changes can help reduce heartburn. Many people find that avoiding certain foods and alcohol helps lessen their heartburn. Eating smaller meals and not lying down after you eat can help as well. Some find it necessary to raise their bed or sleep on a wedge. Over the counter anti-acids can be used to help treat occasional heartburn. Some stronger proton pump inhibitors have recently become available over the counter, and are advised to only be taken for a 14 day period. In some cases surgery is necessary.

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