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About GERDSymptoms Causes Diagnosis
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux, commonly experienced as heartburn or regurgitation, occurs when stomach fluids back up, or reflux, into the esophagus exposing it to gastric acid. While some reflux is normal, it can also be abnormally frequent and severe enough to impact daily life.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is abnormally frequent or chronic reflux. It is the most common gastrointestinal-related diagnosis given by physicians during clinical visits in the U.S. Although GERD is not a life-threatening disease, serious complications such as esophageal stricture, Barrett’s esophagus or adenocarcinoma of the esophagus may occur.
GERD affects patients differently and involves symptoms which vary from mild or moderate to severe. Mild sufferers may experience occasional bouts of heartburn whereas more severe patients may experience heartburn daily. Other patients never experience heartburn but may have atypical symptoms such as asthma, chronic cough, hoarseness or chest pain due to reflux.
Treatment for GERD varies according to the severity of the disease and to the individual. Mild sufferers may experience relief by implementing simple lifestyle changes. Others achieve effective symptom control through medical therapy. Patients who experience more troublesome symptoms of GERD may require or opt for surgery. It is important to remember that GERD is a chronic disease that usually requires lifetime management to control symptoms.
How does chronic acid reflux impact your daily life?
It is estimated that pain and discomfort from acid reflux impacts over 23 million people two or more times per week in the U.S.  GERD can impact a patient’s life in some of the following ways:
Chronic, prolonged exposure to reflux may result in general inflammation, irritation or swelling of the esophagus known as esophagitis. Complicated esophagitis is irritation accompanied by pathology such as ulcers, stricture, hemorrhage or precancerous cellular changes.
While symptoms alone can have a significant effect on one’s quality of life, GERD is a serious disorder because it is associated with the development of a condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus. Barrett’s Esophagus is a cellular change in the lining of the distal esophagus. In a percentage of patients, it can progress to esophageal cancer, which can be life threatening.
If you suffer any symptoms of reflux more than twice a week, you may have chronic acid reflux. Take the GERD-HRQL survey and bring the results to your doctor for a GERD evaluation.
 Souza RF and Speechler Stuart. Concepts in the Prevention of Adenocarcinoma of the Distal Esophagus and Proximal Stomach. CA Cancer J Clin 2005; 55: 334-351.
 Brook RA, et al. Cost of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease to the employer: a perspective from the United States. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2007; 26: 889-898.