Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a chronic digestive disease that occurs stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, GERD is estimated to affect 18-28% of people living in North America alone. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact number because many people with GERD-related symptoms don’t seek treatment from their primary care provider.
Despite the prevalence of GERD, there are some misconceptions surrounding the disease. Let’s take a look.
GERD is caused from eating spicy foods. Not quite. While spicy foods can be a heartburn trigger due to the capsaicin, they don’t cause GERD. If you have GERD, you may want to avoid them because they could irritate your esophagus, and aggravate heartburn symptoms, but not everyone has problems with spicy foods.
Heartburn is the only sign of GERD. With GERD, you could have a constant stomachache, or bad breath. The Cleveland Clinic also estimates that more than 75 percent of patients with asthma also have GERD.
GERD is no big deal. If left untreated, complications can arise. Sores can develop in the esophagus, and a narrowing of the esophagus can even occur. A serious complication called Barrett’s esophagus also affects about 10 percent of people with GERD. This condition causes normal tissue lining the esophagus to change to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine.
If you or someone you love is struggling to manage symptoms associated with GERD, local studies for potential new treatment options are enrolling now at Stamford Therapeutics Consortium. Those that qualify have access to potential new GERD treatments and are cared for by board-certified physicians. Qualified participants may also be compensated for time and travel expenses. Learn more about these new research opportunities by clicking HERE.