National GERD Awareness Week is November 17 to 23, just before Thanksgiving when many experience heartburn associated with overeating.
However, if heartburn occurs more frequently, or is associated with symptoms other than heartburn, it may be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a lifelong disease that affects up to one in five adults in the United States. GERD goes by many names such as acid reflux, heartburn and, indigestion and having GERD on a regular basis is not a normal part of life.
Sarah Bush Lincoln is hosting a GERD awareness campaign by sharing informational videos from General Surgeons Kellie Jones-Monahan, MD; Todd Bierman, MD; and James Flaig, DO, on its Facebook page on Nov. 18, 20 and 22 respectively and on its website at www.sarahbush.org/gerd.
The goal is to educate people about the fact that frequent heartburn can be a sign of reflux disease and that early detection is the key to preventing the disease from escalating into a more serious condition.
“GERD, acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion is extremely common, but it is not normal and this is why it often goes undiagnosed and unchecked,” Dr. Flaig said. “Uncontrolled heartburn is a significant problem and it’s climbing in this country at a significant rate. It is number one cause for esophageal cancer.”
People suffering from frequent heartburn (occurring two or more times per week) should talk to their medical provider to discuss their individual condition and risk, according to Dr. Jones-Monahan. This is especially true if someone is taking medication for heartburn or indigestion twice a week without prior testing.
Dr. Bierman shares information about a procedure, called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) that can be done to determine what’s causing digestive signs and symptoms. “Untreated long-term reflux can lead to esophageal cancer and that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” he said.
To learn more about your risk, take the GERD questionnaire, which is available for download at www.sarahbush.org/gerd. Those interested in being checked by a doctor, please call the SBL Surgery Clinic at 217 258-2040 or the SBL Evergreen Clinic at 217 347-2500.