It is important to recognize that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disease that should not be ignored or self-treated. Heartburn, the most frequent symptom, is so common that its significance may be underestimated, casually dismissed, and not associated with a disease – like GERD.
In studies that measure emotional well-being, people with unresolved GERD often report worse scores than those with other chronic diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, peptic ulcer, or angina. Yet, nearly half of acid reflux sufferers do not recognize it as a disease.
It is usually accompanied by obvious common symptoms but may occur in the absence of obvious symptoms. If ignored or not appropriately treated, it can lead to more serious complications. Most people with gastroesophageal reflux disease have mild disease that can be controlled through lifestyle changes and medication.
If you suspect you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, the first step is to consult a physician to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Recognize that gastroesophageal reflux disease is a generally treatable disease. Then work in partnership with your physician to initiate the best available treatment plan for you.
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Adapted from IFFGD Publication: GERD Brochure. Contributors: Joel E. Richter, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.A.C.G., Director, USF Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition; Director, USF Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders; Endowed Chair, Division of Internal Medicine; and Professor, Department of Oncologic Sciences, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Philip O. Katz, M.D., F.A.C.G., Head, Esophageal Testing Laboratory, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA; and J. Patrick Waring, M.D., Attending Physician, Digestive Healthcare of Georgia, Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta, GA.