Velocity Care offers facts about the signs and symptoms of GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD) is a common disease that affects nearly 7 million people in the United States alone. Researchers expect that 20 to 30 percent of the adult population will experience some form of this disorder at some point in their lives.
In the U.S., we recognize November 20-26 as National GERD Awareness Week. Velocity Care would like to do its part to help raise awareness of this disease.
What is gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD?
GERD is a disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle that joins the esophagus to the stomach. When working properly, this muscle allows food to pass only downward into the stomach. However, in someone with GERD, this muscle is weak and allows the contents of the stomach to push back upward into the esophagus, causing severe irritation. Most individuals can expect occasional heartburn and acid reflux from time to time, however, when these symptoms become chronic and occur more than twice per week on a regular basis, GERD is usually the diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
- Burning sensation or pain in the chest.
- Burning sensation or soreness in the throat.
- Food or stomach acid being brought back up into the mouth.
- Dry cough.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- The sensation of a lump in the throat.
GERD is diagnosed when one or more of these symptoms are present and recur at least twice per week for an extended period of time.
What causes GERD?
There are a few factors that doctors suspect may contribute to a person experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disorder. One such factor is a hiatal hernia. This type of hernia may weaken the LES muscle and allow for food and stomach acid to flow in an upward direction into the esophagus more easily. Dietary choices may also contribute to this disorder. Frequently eating foods such as chocolate, peppermint, coffee or fried and fatty foods may increase the incidence of GERD, as will frequent consumption of alcohol. Being overweight is a contributing factor, and it is also thought that smoking may relax the LES, causing an increased incidence of GERD.
Doctors most commonly prescribe diet and lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms of GERD. Quitting smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption and removing certain foods from the diet should help to reduce the frequency and severity of the symptoms and prevent future damage from occurring. Doctors may also choose to prescribe certain medications that can help to control the amount of stomach acid produced, decreasing the symptoms of heartburn and reflux. In very rare and severe cases, surgery is also an option.
If persistent heartburn and reflux plagues you, it is time to see a doctor. Physicians at Velocity Care’s clinics are able to diagnose GERD and prescribe the right therapy or prescription medications to relieve symptoms. If you suspect that you may be one of the 7 million Americans suffering from GERD, don’t hesitate any longer. Visit your nearest Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center today.
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