Each year, GERD Awareness Week is observed during the week of Thanksgiving, when people traditionally overindulge in rich, scrumptious holiday foods. Unfortunately, this overindulgence often causes uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, bloating, and regurgitation. While it’s common for people to experience heartburn one to two times per month—especially during the holidays—if you experience heartburn two or more times per week, you may have a more serious condition called GERD.
What is GERD?
GERD is a chronic condition affecting approximately 1-in-5 Americans. It occurs when the gastroesophageal valve fails to work properly and allows contents to flow from the stomach back into the esophagus. The resulting symptoms of this faulty valve are burning sensations in the chest, also known as heartburn; regurgitation of food or sour liquid, or acid reflux; and difficulty swallowing. Occasionally, symptoms of GERD can include the constant feeling of a lump in the throat, asthma, chronic dry cough, chronic sore throat, laryngitis, hoarseness, tooth erosion, and non-cardiac chest pain. When GERD is left untreated, it can get worse and become an irritating, lifelong disease that not only affects every aspect of a person’s life, but also leads to more serious health problems like Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
Eat and drink wisely to help control GERD symptoms.
In most cases, simple lifestyle adjustments should help to control GERD during the holidays. This holiday season, try the following:
- Quit smoking. Nicotine weakens the muscles in your esophagus that help to prevent contents from the stomach from flowing back into the food pipe.
- Keep up with your workouts. You may not be able to stick to your normal exercise routine during the holidays but staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can help alleviate GERD symptoms.
- Avoid snacking on fatty foods like chips and dip, cheese, and fried foods. They take longer to digest and can aggravate GERD symptoms.
- Choose water over juice, soda, and coffee. The acid in the juice, the carbonation in the soda, and the caffeine in the coffee can all worsen GERD symptoms.
- Schedule your main meal earlier in the day and fight the urge to lie down and take a nap afterward. GERD symptoms can flare up if you lie down within three hours of eating a big meal.
- Limit alcoholic drinks. Wine, beer, and liquor can worsen reflux.
- Choose your desserts carefully. You may love chocolate, but it often bothers those with GERD.
- Skip the candy canes and other peppermint-flavored treats as they are known to aggravate heartburn.
- Visit your primary care provider for an official GERD diagnosis.
If you are experiencing frequent or constant heartburn that interferes with your normal, daily activities, then you might have GERD. The most important measure you can take is to talk to your primary care provider to get an official diagnosis and discuss treatment options. Your PCP can help you identify lifestyle changes that may alleviate your symptoms or prescribe medication that may help. If those options do not work, you may need to consider a surgical option.
Relief from GERD is available at Amberwell.
At Amberwell Health, we have board-certified general surgeon Dr. Roderick Warren—an expert in surgical GERD treatment. Dr. Warren assesses each individual patient and carefully chooses treatment options based on each patient’s personal needs. There are several endoscopic and minimally invasive procedures, like the TIF procedure for reflux, that can help restore proper function to the faulty valve in your digestive system and relieve your GERD. Dr. Warren can choose the one that is best for you and perform your surgery.
One of the many benefits of going to Dr. Warren for your surgery is that you can see him throughout the entire process of the procedure—from the initial visit and pre-operative work through your post-procedure, follow-up care.
Request a consultation to discuss treatment options for GERD.
Contact Dr. Roderick Warren’s office at 913-367-6682 to request a consultation to discuss treatment options for GERD.
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