Heartburn or GERD?
Heartburn. The burning sensation in the chest we experience following an occasional heavy meal or period of stress. Heartburn pain is the result of stomach acid washing up into the esophagus as a result of impaired digestion. Heartburn is a common issue, and for most of us, natural supplements such as enzymes are quite helpful for the occasional acid indigestion and discomfort.
If you experience heartburn frequently, please consult with your doctor as this may indicate a larger and more serious problem known as GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. GERD is a disease condition often associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of GERD should not be ignored as they can affect the quality of your life, cause bleeding strictures of the esophagus and worst of all, cancer.
Endoscopy is one method of diagnosis for the condition, but should be reserved for more severe and less responsive cases. The consensus is that the procedure has been overused. For many, lifestyle changes are very effective for treating GERD, primarily weight loss, avoiding smoking and reducing alcohol intake. Examine your diet and investigate potential dietary triggers or food intolerances. In certain cases prescription drugs may be required.
In her presentation in May, 2012, in Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2012, author Rebecca M. Lovell, MD, from Leeds Gastroenterology Institute in the United Kingdom, indicated that prevalence of GERD is 4 times higher among people with IBS. Read more about that meta-analysis here.