This week, people around the United States are celebrating more than just Thanksgiving. The 17th Annual GERD Awareness Week, which runs from November 20-26, aims to educate the general public about this chronic disease that affects millions. GERD, which is short for, is a chronic condition where the contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus. Not only does this reflux cause pain and discomfort, it can also cause damage to the esophagus.
The most common sign of GERD is heartburn and reflux, especially if it happens frequently, causes affected patients to wake up at night, or if it interferes with basic daily activity. There are some other lesser-known symptoms including chronic sore throat and irritation, excess of saliva, hoarseness in the morning, a sour taste, bad breath, and inflammation of the gums. Some effects of the disease aren’t a day-to-day problem and might not even be known until a patient is examined. The worst symptom of the disease is tissue damage in the esophagus, which can lead to long-term problems.
Although the disease is fairly widespread, it isn’t always something that people discuss or understand. If you do suffer from GERD, the best way to honor GERD Awareness Week is to be vocal about the disease, your symptoms, and how you can help improve the side effects, making life a little easier and more comfortable. Use the resources available from the IFFGD, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, to spread the word. Their site http://www.aboutgerd.org/ provides resources including flyers, graphics, and information that can be used to educate others about the disease. Encourage people to visit their doctor to discuss any symptoms they are experiencing so they can begin to seek treatment. Thankfully, GERD symptoms are manageable and some damage to the body can be reversed, meaning those who are living with the disease can move forward and live a healthy life with the right attention and treatment. If you have concerns that your heartburn may be something more, make an appointment with one of our doctors at GI Associates today. Don’t suffer in silence!