MILWAUKEE, Wis., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly everyone experiences heartburn now and then with no ill effect. Even when heartburn occurs often, something so common may be ignored. But persistent or worsening heartburn may be a sign of something else – like gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
If not treated properly GERD can lead to serious health problems. Knowing the signs help tell you it's time to check with your doctor. These often include heartburn that occurs more than once a week, is getting worse, or wakes you from sleep at night.
GERD occurs when stomach contents, which are usually acidic, repeatedly flow backward, or reflux, into the esophagus (food tube). The symptoms of GERD vary from person to person. In addition to frequent heartburn, other symptoms can occur, such as difficulty or pain when swallowing, refluxed material into the mouth, belching, feeling of food sticking in the esophagus, chronic sore throat, laryngitis, inflammation of the gums, erosion of tooth enamel, chronic throat irritation, hoarseness in the morning, and a sour taste in the mouth.
Over-the-counter agents may provide temporary symptom relief, especially for mild, occasional heartburn. They donotprevent recurrence of symptoms or treat complications, like injury to the esophagus, which can be caused by reflux.
"GERD is generally treatable, but first people need to recognize symptoms that are out of the ordinary and visit their healthcare providers to get an accurate diagnosis," said J. Patrick Waring, M.D. of Digestive Healthcare of Georgia.
Once diagnosed, treatment can then begin which is tailored to individual needs. This may include medications along with dietary and lifestyle measures.
Every year, during GERD Awareness Week, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), reminds people of the symptoms of GERD and steps that can be taken to bring them under control.
"It is important to raise awareness and understanding about signs of GERD so that people with symptoms can get the help they need," said Nancy Norton, founder of IFFGD. "Because uncontrolled GERD can result in more serious concerns and impair a person's quality of life, taking that first step of talking with a healthcare professional is key for proper treatment and finding relief."
GERD Awareness Week is November 23–29, 2014. It takes place each year during the week of Thanksgiving. For more information on GERD, visit IFFGD's website www.aboutGERD.org.
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by chronic digestive conditions. IFFGD works tirelessly to promote awareness, scientific advancement, and improved patient care. The largest organization of its kind in the US, IFFGD and its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance, rely on donor support to fund research and provide educational resources for those affected by gastrointestinal disorders. Learn how you can help at www.iffgd.org and www.dha.org or by contacting Email