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Heartburn can be a sign of GERD

While occasional heartburn rarely is a cause for concern, frequent or chronic heartburn can be a sign of a more serious health issue.
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GERD Awareness Week takes place the week of Thanksgiving, a prime time for heartburn, with many people eating to excess. While occasional heartburn rarely is a cause for concern, frequent or chronic heartburn can be a sign of a more serious health issue known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, according to IFFGD (the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders).

GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back (refluxes) into the food pipe (esophagus). Repeated backwash can irritate the lining of the esophagus, possibly leading to erosion of the esophagus, bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus, or, in some cases, a potentially precancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus.

Often people do not take heartburn seriously because it is so common. There are signs, though, that a health care professional should check to see an underlying condition, like GERD, is present.

You Should See A Doctor If Heartburn:

  • persists or becomes more severe.
  • occurs at night and/or wakes you from sleep.
  • occurs two or more times a week.
  • has been occurring for five years or more.
  • interferes with daily activities.

Heartburn is not the only symptom of GERD. Other symptoms include trouble swallowing, chronic sore throat, or hoarseness in the morning.

As part of GERD Awareness Week, IFFGD encourages anyone who is experiencing possible symptoms to visit its website (http://www.aboutGERD.org) or call the toll-free IFFGD Helpline at 888-964-2001 for a free GERD Awareness Week information packet.


Editor, Carolyn Allen

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Publication Date: 11/8/2010
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