Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a condition in which the contents of the stomach flow into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, dry cough and/or sore throat — is a significant health problem in the U.S. GERD impacts 40 percent of Americans, and approximately 20 million people have pursued medical management for it.
Treatment options include:
• Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids
• Prescription medications, such as proton pump inhibitors
• Surgery, including a laparoscopic procedure called the LINX procedure
Many people choose to self-treat with over-the-counter medications, but these medications just treat the acid, not the underlying problem. They neutralize the acid coming up from the stomach. Surgical management can help stop the reflux from occurring. If you’re experiencing frequent acid reflux, speak with your physician about whether surgery is an option.
To help prevent GERD year-round, especially during the holidays, learn seven simple healthy holiday eating habits.
-Anthony Altimari, MD, general surgeon, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group