It’s not surprising that the week of Thanksgiving was chosen as GERD awareness week, especially with our tendency to indulge in a little too much pumpkin pie, stuffing, and yams! GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common disease that affects millions of Americans. Everyone has heartburn on occasion, but there are some clear differences between heartburn and GERD.
GERD is the most common digestive disorder for which patients seek medical care. Approximately 10% of Americans suffer from daily symptoms or take medications to manage these symptoms on a daily basis. In most patients who do not tolerate medical therapy or in patients who have inadequate or incomplete relief of GERD symptoms from appropriate medical therapy, antireflux surgery – performed by experienced surgeons and in appropriately selected patients – is a safe and effective option.
If you are taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about switching to another drug that does not have the same effect on the upper digestive tract. However, never stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.
If after trying the above tips, you are still experiencing GERD, see your doctor.
Surgical therapy is also an option for the treatment of GERD. The main indication for surgical therapy is failure of medical management when symptoms persist despite appropriate medical therapy. Another indication for antireflux surgery is personal preference. Some people do not want to take lifelong acid suppression medication or have too many side-effects from these medications and may want to consider antireflux surgery. If you or someone you love is suffering from GERD, you may be a candidate for antireflux surgery. Talk to your primary care physician and know your options.