Oh My GERD! Why Your Heartburn Might be More

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

do you have gerd
Think you have nothing in common with President Barack Obama?
Health wise, you might share a very common disorder. In December, the President was examined after suffering from a persistent sore throat that had lasted weeks. He walked out with a diagnosis of acid reflux, or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).
GERD happens when the barrier that would normally stop reflux of stomach contents back into the esophagus is relaxed at inappropriate times. When this acid reflux happens persistently, it’s characterized as GERD.
Could you have GERD?
Lots of people have heartburn from time to time, but how do you know when your symptoms could indicate something more? According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, you should talk to your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
  • You experience heartburn two or more times per week.
  • Your heartburn gets worse.
  • Your heartburn happens at night and wakes you from sleep.
  • You’ve had heartburn now and then, but for several weeks.
  • You have difficulty or pain when swallowing.
  • Your discomfort or pain interferes with daily activities.
How is GERD treated?
If you are diagnosed with GERD, your doctor might recommend that you make changes to your lifestyle. Losing weight, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and making dietary changes could all be advised. Medication, surgery, and endoscopic treatments are other ways to treat GERD.
It’s just heartburn. Why should I worry?
Untreated, GERD can cause serious health problems. Your esophagus can be damaged, which could make it difficult to swallow. Although it’s rare, for some people, cells in the esophagus change because of their GERD, which could lead to esophageal cancer.
If you’re worried that your persistent heartburn could be GERD or if you’ve experienced any other symptoms, follow President Obama’s example and make an appointment with your doctor today.
Photo credit: Alisha Vargas

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.