If you have heartburn twice a week or more, you may have GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but you may also experience:
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Frequent swallowing
- Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
- Pain or discomfort in the chest
- Sleep disruption (unable to sleep lying down)
- Excessive clearing of the throat
- Persistent cough
- Burning in the mouth or throat
- Intolerance of certain foods
- Dental erosions or therapy-resistant gum disease or inflammation
Normally, after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and stomach opens to allow food to pass and then closes to prevent stomach contents from “refluxing” back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. For people who suffer from GERD, the valve is dysfunctional and unable to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus.
GERD today is typically treated with medications such as histamine receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), such as Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Protonix. These medications can lose their effectiveness over time. They also don’t treat the underlying root causes of reflux, the deteriorated anatomy of the antireflux barrier, so life-long medication therapy is required. In addition, recent studies on the adverse effects of long-term use of PPIs indicate a significantly higher incidence of hip fractures, particularly among women.
For people who have severe GERD, surgical intervention may be required.
Contact your Primary Care Provider (PCP) for a referral, or visit VistaAnytime.com to self-schedule an appointment with a PCP.
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