Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicate that about seven million people in the United States suffer from GERD. It afflicts people of every socioeconomic class, ethnic group and age. However, the incidence does increase quite dramatically in people over 40. More than 50 percent of those afflicted with GERD are between the ages of 45-64 (both male and female).

What is GERD?
At some time, almost everyone experiences a gastroesophageal reflux, or a backflow of acid from the stomach into the swallowing tube or esophagus. In some individuals, this reflux occurs so frequently or severely that it can impact the patient’s life and/or damage the esophagus. When the condition becomes this severe, it is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Symptoms

The four major symptoms of GERD include:

  • heartburn (uncomfortable, rising, burning sensation behind the breastbone)
  • regurgitation of gastric acid or sour contents into the mouth
  • difficult and/or painful swallowing
  • chest pain.

There can also be more minor symptoms affecting the lungs, such as asthma, coughing, intermittent wheezing, or vocal cord inflammation with hoarseness.