US News: Chronic Heartburn a Growing Problem in U.S.
All the more reason to watch your intake of acids (fats, sugars and preservative). This is the unintended consequences of the Modern American Acidic Diet. You should consume a low acid diet and drink Evamor Water.
Credit: US News and World Report
Written by: Dennis Thompson
THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) — Heartburn and acid reflux strike many people as an annoying and painful but ultimately harmless problem — a result of overindulgence and gluttony that must be endured, much like a hangover after a night of drinking.
But frequent bouts of heartburn and reflux constitute a real medical condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and GERD is on the rise worldwide.
“The overall prevalence is increasing over the past decades,” said Dr. Ronnie Fass, a medical advisory board member for the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders who’s also a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and chief of gastroenterology at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.
The increase has occurred “not only in the United States, but in Asian countries, where GERD was unheard of,” Fass said. “But we are the trailblazers. We are leading the world.”
If left untreated, GERD can lead to bleeding or ulcers in the esophagus, a buildup of scar tissue that makes swallowing difficult and, in extreme cases, esophageal cancer, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“People consider heartburn part of the eating experience,” Fass said. “They have to understand the presence of heartburn denotes a real medical problem.”
Frequent reflux or heartburn are apparently a regular occurrence for Americans. “We believe up to 20 percent of the population experiences symptoms once a week, and 7 percent have daily symptoms,” he said.
Heartburn and acid reflux occur when acidic digestive juices from the stomach get past a ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a valve separating the stomach from the esophagus.
People experience heartburn when the digestive juices eat away at the lining of the esophagus. Sometimes the acid refluxes all the way up through the esophagus to the mouth, causing people to taste digestive juices or food in the back of their mouth.
Doctors consider people to be suffering from GERD if they experience persistent reflux, meaning at least twice a week, according to the NIH. Anyone at any age can have GERD, although symptoms tend to be different for children 12 and younger, who may have asthma-like symptoms, a dry cough or difficulty swallowing.
Most of the time, GERD stems from one of two causes — what you eat and how much you weigh — but excessive weight is the most prominent, said Dr. Kenneth R. DeVault, chairman of the gastroenterology department at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and co-author of the American College of Gastroenterology’s guidelines for treating GERD.
“The most consistent factor is probably weight gain and obesity,” DeVault said. “It’s become pretty clear that a small amount of weight gain produces an increase in reflux symptoms. I’m not talking a large amount; I’m talking about 5 or 10 pounds, probably. Even if you’re already overweight, increasing your weight will increase your risk of reflux over the next several months.”