National Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Awareness Week takes place every year right before November’s signature holiday – when many Americans may experience heartburn associated with overeating. This disorder is so common that 23 years ago, the designated week was created to bring attention and help educate the public. Raising awareness can improve patient care, promote research, and impact positive outcomes.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where contents in the stomach flow back (reflux) into the esophagus (food tube) causing troublesome symptoms and/or possible damage to the esophagus. GERD is a chronic disease for which long-term medical therapy is usually effective. No single cause is known as to why this happens as reflux occurs when the muscle barrier between the stomach and the esophagus does not work properly.
Signs & Symptoms of GERD
The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn followed by reflux (the rush of fluid into the mouth). Other less common symptoms may be painful swallowing, a constant clearing of the throat, a sensation of food stuck in the esophagus, a scratchy voice, a chronic cough, wheezing, and/or a sore throat.
Individuals with GERD need to be prepared for long-term treatment. Options may include lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, or a combination of approaches all with a common goal. A simple change in foods eaten or medications taken can help tremendously. The goals are to reduce the symptoms, heal an injured esophagus, and manage or prevent complications.
Over-the-counter medications are just temporary fixes for quick relief so your trusted physician needs to know how often one uses these types of medicines. They may prescribe a more powerful medication that reduces or limits acid secretion in the stomach. As always, the last resort is surgery. Surgery can strengthen the barrier between the stomach and esophagus
Only a doctor can make a diagnosis of GERD based on the patient’s signs and symptoms. Certain tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to fully disclose all your signs and symptoms to your doctor so the appropriate treatment can be administered.
Jupiter Medical Specialists are here to make your healthcare journey simple and bring further awareness to the community. Contact us today at (561)972-5709 to schedule a consultation.