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GERD/Acid Reflux

Sometimes persistent heartburn can be Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can lead to cancer of the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus.

Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.

Acid reflux affects about 3 million U.S. adults each year.  It is a condition where sour liquid or regurgitated food is present in the back of the throat, often causing a burning sensation in the chest known as heartburn. If you’re experiencing acid reflux frequently, it could be a sign of something more serious like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s important to consult with a primary care doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Common signs and symptoms of GERD
  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:

  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep

Common factors contributing to GERD you should discuss with your doctor:

  • Eating fatty or fried foods
  • Drinking coffee or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
When to see a doctor

Seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath, or jaw or arm pain. These may be signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
  • Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week