GERD is More Than Just Heartburn: When to See a Healthcare Professional

GERD is More Than Just Heartburn

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD affects one in five people in the U.S. Occasional heartburn is quite common, especially after eating large meals during the holiday season. But not all heartburn is the same. It is important to distinguish simple, occasional heartburn from long-standing heartburn that keeps recurring. Frequent, worsening, or persistent heartburn is a sign that it is time to see your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment. An underlying condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could be the cause.

The feeling of acid reflux is heartburn: a mild burning sensation in the mid-chest, often occurring after meals or when lying down. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a more serious form of acid reflux. In GERD, the backflow of stomach acid occurs chronically and cause damage to your body over time.

Believe it or not, the condition affects one in five people in the U.S. While GERD usually can be treated effectively, symptoms are often misunderstood or can go unrecognized.

Chronic heartburn is the most frequently reported GERD symptom. But, because heartburn is so common, it may be self-treated or ignored. Unfortunately, self-treatment may delay effective treatment.

When Should I See a Doctor for GERD?

You should always see a healthcare provider if your heartburn:

  • persists or becomes more severe
  • happens at night and wakes you from sleep
  • occurs two or more times a week
  • has been occurring for five years or more, or
  • creates pain that interferes with daily activities

Other symptoms include regurgitation (refluxed material into the mouth), trouble swallowing, excessive belching, inflammation of the gums, sour taste in the mouth, sore throat, or hoarseness in the morning. Sometimes there are no apparent symptoms, and the presence of GERD is not revealed until complications appear.

A healthcare professional should diagnose you. Symptoms are usually treated through lifestyle changes, medicine, surgery or a combination of treatments.

GERD Awareness Week at Ocean Family Gastroenterology

At Ocean Family Gastroenterology, we are celebrating the 24th Annual GERD Awareness Week November 19-23 as an opportunity to educate our community about GERD and to raise awareness about those living with the condition. To learn more about GERD or to schedule an appointment with one of our digestive health experts, call 732-281-1590 or visit us online HERE. Our board-certified GI experts have a long history of offering some of the most advanced patient services in a caring environment to the patients of Ocean County, New Jersey.