National GERD Awareness Week takes place every year from November 18 to November 24. It comes just in time for Thanksgiving – when many Americans may experience heartburn associated with overeating. However, if heartburn occurs more frequently, or is associated with symptoms other than heartburn, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a lifelong disease that affects up to one in five adults in the United States.
GERD is caused by a weak valve that allows acid, bile and stomach contents to flow back from the stomach into the esophagus, creating pain (heartburn) and potentially causing damage to the lining of the esophagus. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but not the only one. Some GERD sufferers experience other symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough
- Worsening asthma symptoms
- Bad breath
- Sleep disturbance
- Tooth erosion
Tips to reduce GERD symptoms
- Avoid foods known to worsen symptoms; including citrus, tomato, onion, mint, chocolate, spicy foods and fried/high-fat foods.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol.
- Avoid NSAIDs (naproxen and ibuprofen).
- Elevate the head of your bed 4 to 8 inches.
- Avoid lying down within 2 to 3 hours after late or large evening meals.
- Consume smaller and more frequent meals.
- Lose weight. Even a 5 to 10 percent weight loss will be beneficial in reducing your symptoms.
- Avoid clothing that is tight around the waist.
Garnet Health Medical Center’s Heartburn Treatment Center specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and care of heartburn, GERD and other esophageal diseases. At the Center, a clinical coordinator and physician evaluate and select the appropriate treatment based on a patient’s individual symptoms. Many heartburn sufferers find help through lifestyle changes and medications. However, some do not, and the clinicians at the Heartburn Treatment Center work with these patients to select the best treatment option. The Center also offers advanced technologies to test the function of the esophagus, measure acid levels and evaluate for pre-cancerous conditions.
For more information, contact the Heartburn Treatment Center at 845-333-2635 or visit www.ormc.org/heartburn