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National GERD Awareness Week is Nov. 20-26, 2022

Athens, Ga. (Nov. 21, 2022) -- The week of November 20-26, 2022 is national Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) 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).

Eric Bour, M.D., a general surgeon and GERD expert at Piedmont Athens Regional, treats adults of all ages suffering from chronic acid reflux who have tried unsuccessfully to manage their symptoms with medication alone.

"Occasional heartburn can be bothersome but will often go away once you stop eating or with the help of over-the-counter antacids," said Dr. Bour. "Chronic GERD impacts your day-to-day activities. It can also cause long-term damage to the body and even lead to severe health problems such as Barrett’s Esophagus or esophageal cancer."

An estimated 1 in every 5 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 or 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 our 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 the 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 severe 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

"The therapies we use today to treat GERD and screen for severe disease often caused by GERD are more advanced and less invasive than what was available in the past," said Dr. Bour. "I tell patients who have been diagnosed with GERD or who think they might have it to find out more about treatment options." 

If you are reaching for antacids more than twice a week, it’s time to see a doctor.  If your current medications aren’t working well enough, there are alternative therapies that could be right for you.  If you have risk factors for esophageal cancer – such as obesity, age over 50, male, or family history of esophageal cancer – or if you have been on acid suppression medications for a long period of time, it may be an opportunity for you to be screened for changes in the esophagus that could lead to other more serious conditions. There are more treatment options available close to home than ever, and a GERD expert will help you select the best choice suited to your needs.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bour, click here. For more information on GERD, visit

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