What is GERD?

linx_diagram1.jpgGastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) -- also known as heartburn and acid reflux -- can spell misery for millions of adults in the U.S. GERD is caused by a weak muscle in the esophagus called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). When that muscle isn't strong enough, it allows acid and bile to splash up from the stomach into the esophagus. The acid and bile often injure the lining of the esophagus and create symptoms including heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, sore throat, and cough.


GERD is:

Caused by a mechanical defect that requires a mechanical solution. Medications for GERD are designed to control or suppress acid production in the stomach. They do not address the root cause of GERD, the weak sphincter muscle, and they can't prevent reflux. Approximately 40 percent of GERD sufferers continue to have symptoms while taking medications.

Epidemic. 1 in 5 U.S. adults suffers from GERD.

Serious. GERD can lead to serious complications including stricture, Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal cancer. Cases of adenocarcinoma, a type of esophageal cancer, increased more than 600 percent between 1973 and 2006.

Debilitating. GERD can cause daily pain, lead to poor sleep, affect food tolerance, and limit daily activities.

Costly. The cost of GERD to U.S. employers has been estimated at $75 billion per year.


Contact us today

To learn more, please contact Nurse Manager Valerie Heinl at 251-471-7413 or vheinl@health.southalabama.edu.


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