Gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux is a common symptom that many people experience. Acid reflux is when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. Occasional reflux can happen to healthy individuals but persistent reflux is a problem. Symptoms can include heartburn, regurgitation and difficulty or pain with swallowing, cough or sore throat, nausea or vomiting.

Risk factors for developing GERD include hiatal hernia, obesity, pregnancy, caffeine, chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, alcohol, cigarette smoking and certain medications.

Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, avoiding certain foods, smoking and alcohol cessation, avoiding late meals and wearing loose comfortable clothing can be used to manage symptoms. Antacids, histamine blockers and proton pump inhibitors have long been used to manage these symptoms. However, recent issues with medications such as ranitidine (prompting recall) and serious side effects associated with long term use of proton pump inhibitors cannot be ignored. Potential complications of untreated severe GERD can include erosive esophagitis, esophageal stricture, barett’s esophagus, lung and throat problems and dental problems.

If you suffer from GERD, call your primary care clinician. If you do not have a primary care clinician you can either become a member of Compassion Primary Care, a direct primary care (dpc) practice or schedule a non-member visit.

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