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GERD Fast Facts

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Updated August 03, 2011

Fact 1:
GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is located between the esophagus and stomach, is weakened or opens inappropriately. This allows acid and other stomach contents back into the esophagus, causing irritation.

Fact 2:
Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD.

Fact 3:
Other symptoms of GERD include a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, chest pain, or feeling like there is a lump in the throat.

Fact 4:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects approximately 19 million Americans.

Fact 5:
GERD can affect anyone from babies to adults.

Fact 6:
GERD causes pain. The refluxed stomach acid triggers nerves in the esophagus. The refluxed stomach acid can cause damage the lining of the esophagus, which in turn can cause pain.

Fact 7:
Pregnancy can increase the risk of developing GERD in the expectant mother.

Fact 8:
GERD is linked to other medical conditions. These include asthma, hiatal hernias, the connective tissue disease scleroderma and, ear and sinus infections (mostly in children).

Fact 9:
Eating certain foods and drinking certain beverages can trigger GERD symptoms.

Fact 10:
Lifestyle changes can often reduce GERD symptoms. These include dietary changes, modification of certain lifestyle habits, and how we sleep at night.

Fact 11:
Wearing tight fitting clothing around the waist and abdomen, such as shaping undergarments, can cause an increase in abdominal pressure, which can in turn trigger GERD symptoms.

Fact 12:
Walking can help ease GERD symptoms, especially after meals.

Fact 13:
Some medications taken for other medical condition can trigger GERD symptoms.

Fact 14:
Elevating the head of the bed is a common way to ease GERD symptoms at night.

Fact 15:
Good posture can help with GERD symptoms. Sitting up straight allows gravity to aid digestion.

Fact 16:
Chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can lead to serious complications. The constant presence of refluxed acid in the esophagus can lead to conditions such as Barrett's esophagus, erosive esophagitis, esophageal strictures, and even esophageal cancer.

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Additional Resources:

GERD - Basics
GERD in Infants
GERD in Children and Adolescents
Symptoms of GERD
Diagnosing GERD
Causes of GERD
GERD Treatments
GERD and Asthma
Living with GERD
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

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Sources:

Facts & Fallacies about Heartburn and GERD American College of Gastroenterology

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