Are you at risk for GERD?
Most people get heartburn – a painful, burning sensation in your chest 30 minutes to 2 hours after you eat – every now and then. But when you get this burning sensation often or regularly, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
GERD is also called acid reflux disease. The pain may start in your stomach and move up to the middle of your chest. You may even feel pain in your throat.
GERD is caused when a one-way valve in your food tube, or esophagus, doesn’t work as it should. Normally, the valve opens when you swallow food or drink. The valve allows food to enter your stomach and then closes quickly. With GERD, the valve allows food and stomach acid to travel back, or reflux, into your esophagus.
About 1 or 2 out of 10 adults in the U.S. have GERD. You may be more at risk for GERD if you:
- Have a part of your stomach slide up out of the belly cavity next to your esophagus, known as a hiatal hernia
- Have a weak lower esophageal sphincter or LES
- Are obese
- Are pregnant
- Use some medicines, such as aspirin or over-the-counter pain and fever medicines such as NSAIDs
- Smoke or are around secondhand smoke
- Drink alcohol
- Are older
In many cases making diet and lifestyle changes can help reduce GERD symptoms. Always check with your health care provider before making any changes.
If you think you may have GERD, talk with your primary care provider about a referral to see one of our gastroenterologists at Marshall Internal Medicine.
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