Did you know that April is Esophageal Awareness Month? As the name would suggest, this month aims to bring awareness to esophageal diseases, most notably esophageal cancer. We’ll take a look at some statistics around esophageal cancer and GERD, and the connection between GERD and esophageal cancer.
· Over 17,000 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2019
· About 16,000 deaths will occur from esophageal cancer
· Esophageal cancer is more common among men than among women
· Over 18 million GERD diagnoses are made each year
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD occurs when a person’s lower esophageal sphincter or LES muscle is weakened, permitting stomach acid to rise back into the esophagus. This results in chronic acid reflux, which is considered mild to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once or twice a week.
How do I know if I have GERD?
Symptoms of GERD vary from person to person, but can include:
· Heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest)
· Chronic acid reflux
· Pain in the chest
· Issues swallowing
· The sensation of a lump in your throat
· Regurgitation of food or a sour liquid
· Chronic cough
If you are experiencing even a few of these of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor in case you have GERD.
What happens when GERD is not treated?
Untreated GERD can result in a number of other complications, including Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. Barrett’s esophagus happens when the persistent stomach acid eventually changes the cells in the lining of your esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can increase the likelihood of a person developing esophageal cancer.
How can GERD be treated?
Once your reflux specialist has diagnosed you with GERD, he or she will propose a treatment plan. Treatment for GERD ranges from diet and lifestyle changes to over-the-counter and prescription medications to reflux surgery. Only reflux surgery can treat the root cause of GERD, as it strengthens the LES muscle, which allows it to keep stomach acid in the stomach—where it belongs.
Celebrate Esophageal Awareness Month in the best way you can, by calling to request an appointment with a GERD specialist at Tampa Bay Reflux Center to begin treating your GERD today!