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Milwaukee, WI - November 16, 2006 A special meal with family and friends is often at the heart of holiday gatherings. For those suffering from GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), however, this usually comforting tradition may bring painful and distressing symptoms.
GERD is a disease characterized by stomach acid flowing back (refluxing) into the food pipe (esophagus). Repeated backwash of acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus.
Of course, overindulgence can cause anyone to feel uncomfortable. But a person with GERD feels these symptoms on a regular basis.
"When symptoms occur more than once a week, or become severe, it is important to consult a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment advice," notes Nancy J. Norton, President of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
Many people who suffer from GERD put off seeing a doctor because the discomfort temporarily subsides and does not seem serious. However, if ignored or not properly diagnosed by a physician, GERD can sometimes lead to lead to complications such as erosion of the esophagus, bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus or, in some cases, a potentially precancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus.
"No one needs to suffer from GERD; your physician can help relieve your symptoms," notes G. Richard Locke III, M.D., head of the Esophageal Interest Group, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. "If you have food getting stuck in your food pipe, you should definitely see a physician."
"Once diagnosed, GERD can be treated and, in most cases, patients can begin to lead far more comfortable lives," adds Norton. Often treatment involves changes in what and how one eats. For those who are overweight, losing excess pounds may help. A doctor may also recommend medications, which can reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. Other treatments may include surgery or endoscopic procedures to help prevent reflux.
For more information about GERD and GERD Awareness Week, visit www.aboutgerd.org. For general information about functional GI and motility disorders, visit the IFFGD Web site at www.aboutgerd.org or call IFFGD toll-free at 1-888-964-2001.
About the IFFGD
The IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization whose mission it is to inform, assist and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders. With an international group of experts from multiple disciplines who serve on the organization's medical advisory board, the IFFGD is a resource for anyone seeking increased knowledge about gastrointestinal disorders for both adults and children. For more information, visit IFFGD’s website at www.iffgd.org.