If you are experiencing heartburn and acid reflux in Atlanta at least two times a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
GERD is a chronic health condition that is caused by damage to the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. For patients with GERD, the valve becomes damaged and is unable to close correctly, allowing digestive juices like acid to freely wash out of the stomach and cause regular irritation to the esophagus, causing burning in the chest and regurgitation.
While occasional heartburn is not uncommon, people with GERD will experience severe discomfort from heartburn and acid reflux almost regularly. This is a painful and potentially serious medical concern that requires medical intervention for relief.
If left untreated, GERD can result in long-term damage to the esophagus. Chronic acid reflux increases risk for Barrett’s esophagus, a condition marked by mutated cells in the esophagus that has been linked with esophageal cancer.
Who is at Risk?
About 60 percent of adults in the United States experience heartburn in some capacity. For about 30 percent, the symptoms of acid reflux develop weekly, and for approximately 14 million Americans, those symptoms become chronic and develop almost daily. Being overweight or obese severely increases your risk of developing acid reflux disease.
Over-the-counter medications and dietary changes may provide temporary relief from symptoms but will not treat the underlying cause of GERD. The only way to effectively treat GERD is by medical and surgical intervention to repair the lower esophageal sphincter.