Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wis. – Approximately 20% of the U.S. population suffers from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). GERD results in chronic heartburn, gagging and backflow of fluid from the stomach into the esophagus. Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- The feeling of food sticking in the esophagus
- Excessive belching
- Chronic sore throat
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Frequent sour or bitter taste in the mouth
Alex Boettcher, nurse manager of post-operative care at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals says there’s no known single cause of the disease, but the reflux happens when the muscle barrier between the esophagus and the stomach malfunctions or relaxes when it shouldn’t, allowing stomach acid into the esophagus.
“Stomach acid is a good thing because it aids in digestion by breaking down food and nutrients your body needs, but when it travels upward to the throat and esophagus it can cause a burning sensation and break down tissue.”
Throughout the year, but especially November 20-26, GERD Awareness Week, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders encourages people who experience the symptoms of GERD to seek treatment.
For some, an over-the-counter acid-reducing medication may help manage GERD symptoms, but others may experience more severe reactions which prompts lifestyle changes and perhaps surgery.
“It’s important to talk with your doctor about your symptoms, how severe they are and how often they occur,” says Boettcher. “It’s possible to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms by changing your diet, losing weight or making changes to your daily eating routine.”
The NLM says the symptoms of GERD are often misunderstood or ignored, resulting in delaying treatment. If discovered early, and with proper treatment, GERD is generally a treatable condition. However, if left undiagnosed or treated, GERD may damage tissue in the stomach and/or esophagus.
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals provide diagnostic and interventional treatments for a wide variety of digestives disorders, including GERD. For more information about this service, please visit: www.hshs.org/SacredHeart/Services/Digestive-Health
To schedule an appointment, contact your primary care provider.
For more information about GERD, please visit the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders website.
About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.
About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.