GERD Awareness Week: Info to Share with Patients

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OAK BROOK, Ill.―GERD Awareness Week is Nov. 18-24. Few patients know that though, and patients also don't always know the symptoms of GERD and when to see the doctor during the holidays to make the season more comfortable. 

Please consider printing the following information to share with your patients in your hospital or outpatient setting. And, happy Thanksgiving! The below information is courtesy of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).

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Throughout the holiday season, many individuals will eagerly partake in the abundance that graces their tables. After indulging, however, approximately 30 million Americans will suffer the effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, making their celebrations less than festive. National GERD Awareness Week is November 18-24, and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy urges individuals who suffer from GERD to seek medical diagnosis and treatment to make their holidays and every day comfortable and symptom-free.

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when contents in the stomach flow back into the esophagus. This happens when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, opens inappropriately.

What causes GERD?

GERD is caused when there is an imbalance between the normal defense mechanisms of the esophagus and offensive factors such as acid and other digestive juices and enzymes in the stomach. Often, the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus is impaired by weakening of the muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) or the presence of a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach is displaced into the chest. Hiatal hernias, however, are common and not all people with a hiatal hernia have reflux. A major contributor to reflux is obesity; here, increased pressure in the abdomen overcomes the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. Obesity, pregnancy, smoking, excess alcohol use and consumption of a variety of foods such as coffee, citrus drinks, tomato-based products, chocolate, peppermint and fatty foods may also contribute to reflux symptoms.

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