The results of a survey of U.S. gastroenterologists revealed that physicians see more patients complaining of reflux during the holidays. Appropriately, GERD Awareness Week 2015 kicks off the holiday season,Thanksgiving week – November 22-28.
“With changes in diet and the typical dietary indiscretion that happens during the holidays I tend to see more patients with reflux-related issues this time of year,” noted Jay N. Yepuri, MD, MS, from Digestive Health Associates of Texas.
GERD Awareness Week reinforces the need for patient education and encourages those suffering to determine whether their reflux is diet related or is a chronic condition, as well as to explore treatment options.
GERD is a condition where contents that belong in the stomach reflux up into the esophagus causing a variety of symptoms including heartburn.
Sixty percent of adults will experience Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) within a 12-month period and 20 to 30 percent have weekly symptoms. GERD is characterized by classic heartburn symptoms, or other “Silent Reflux” symptoms that may not be immediately identified as GERD, like chronic cough, hoarseness, etc.
Many GERD sufferers are unaware of the dangers of chronic reflux or available treatment options. If left untreated, GERD can lead to Barrett's Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer. First line treatment options include reduced acid diets and other lifestyle changes, followed by medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
Approximately 30 percent of chronic GERD patients do not get adequate relief from medications, and others are concerned about the risks of long-term PPI use. In those cases, an endoscopic procedure like Stretta Therapy is a safe and effective option, followed by surgery as last course of action.
Further reporting showed that patients use this time of year to visit their physicians while they have time off from work, as well as in preparation to live healthier lives in the New Year.
“In the past, we had patients wanting procedures done to rectify their GERD early in the New Year, but now more people prefer to get their care completed prior to year-end before insurance resets,” stated Dr. Mark Noar, Director of the Heartburn and Reflux Center,Towson, Maryland.
All doctors surveyed stressed the need for patients to not ignore chronic GERD symptoms, and to consult with a physician to avoid more serious consequences. GERD Awareness Week is a good time to learn more about reflux issues and embrace a healthier 2016.