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National GERD Awareness Week is November 21-27, 2021

Athens, Ga. (Nov. 22, 2021)—The week of November 21-27, 2021 is national Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week. 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 additional symptoms, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

An estimated one in every five American adults suffers from GERD. It is a chronic condition caused by changes in the gastroesophageal valve (GEV) that allow contents to flow from the stomach back into the esophagus. Left untreated, GERD can be a lifelong disease. It can lead to bothersome symptoms, which can vary from mild to moderate to severe depending on the individual.

  • Typical symptoms: burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux) and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Atypical symptoms: sensation of a lump in the throat (globus), shortness of breath/asthma, chronic dry cough, chronic sore throat, laryngitis and hoarseness, sleep disruptions, dental erosions and non-cardiac chest pain.

GERD is not an acid problem- instead, it is caused by an anatomical issue. The acid the stomach produces is important for digestion, killing harmful bacteria and helping with the absorption of electrolytes and other nutrients from the foods we consume. GERD occurs when the valve between the stomach and esophagus is not working properly and fails to keep contents in the stomach from washing back up into the esophagus.

Medications may offer mild to intermittent symptom control, but they do not stop or prevent reflux. Additionally, those who are or may become dependent on daily medication may develop severed complications from GERD, even if no symptoms are experienced. When left untreated, GERD can lead to other health complications including:

  • Damage to the throat or esophagus
  • Inflammation or narrowing of the esophagus
  • Respiratory complications
  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer

If you are reaching for antacids more than twice a week, it is time to see a doctor. If your current medications aren’t working well enough, there are alternative endoscopic therapies like the TIF procedure for reflux that could be right for you. There are now more treatment options available and a physician specializing in GERD will help you select the best choice suited to your needs.

In Athens, Eric Bour, M.D., a general surgeon with Piedmont Physicians Surgical Specialists, specializes in GERD, hiatal and paraesophageal hernia repair and surgical diseases of the intestinal tract. Dr. Bour performs the TIF procedure, an incisionless, endoscopic procedure, to treat moderate to severe cases of GERD. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bour, call 706-425-1400.

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