GERD FAQ REFLUX TESTING AND TREATMENT

Find answers to frequently asked questions about GERD.

GERD Frequently Asked Questions

Download a print-friendly version of our frequently asked questions. If your question isn't answered, reach out to your physician.

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WHAT IS GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, causes stomach contents (food or liquid) to leak backwards into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). The backwash can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Anyone can get GERD. Those at a higher risk include males and people with a family history of GERD. Obesity can increase the risk of GERD up to six-fold.1-4 Hiatal hernia, smoking, pregnancy, and alcohol consumption are also risk factors.5,6

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE GERD?

The prevalence of GERD is increasing worldwide. It is estimated that GERD affects1:

  • 18.1%–27.8% in North America
  • 8.8%–25.9% in Europe
  • 2.5%–7.8% in East Asia
  • 8.7%–33.1% in the Middle East
  • 11.6% in Australia
  • 23.0% in South America
Man explains GERD symptoms to male doctor.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

The common symptoms of GERD include chronic heartburn (burning pain in the chest) and regurgitation.3 Less common symptoms include chronic cough, sore throat, and a hoarse voice.3

TRACK YOUR SYMPTOMS

GERD Symptom Tracker (.pdf)
Use this resource to track your symptoms. Discuss the results with a gastroenterologist — so together you can take the first step towards treatment.

HOW IS GERD DIAGNOSED?

GERD is often diagnosed based upon symptoms and response to anti-acid medication.7 Yet symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose GERD, and testing is required for conclusive diagnosis.7 Clinical studies reveal that as many as one in three patients taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) do not have GERD.8

If you have a diagnosis of GERD based upon symptoms, take PPIs regularly, and still have reflux symptoms, speak to a GI about a reflux test. The Bravo™ reflux testing system provides information, so your doctor can tailor therapy to your needs.

Bravo™ risk information

ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE?

GERD can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, healthier meals, eating smaller portions, and not eating just before bed time. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines, like proton pump inhibitors, can lower the amount of acid released in your stomach.

For patients who do not respond to lifestyle changes and medication, anti-reflux procedures may also be an option. Talk to your doctor about these options.

WHAT IF I DON'T SEEK TREATMENT?

In addition to its negative impact on health-related quality of life, GERD may lead to serious diseases, including Barrett's esophagus.4 GERD patients are 6 to 8 times more likely to have Barrett's esophagus in their lifetime.7

If untreated, Barrett’s esophagus may progress to esophageal cancer.6 Esophageal cancer may not be curable depending on the stage at diagnosis. It has a low five-year survival rate of 19%.5,8

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Information and resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always discuss diagnosis and treatment information including risks with your doctor. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary.

1

El-Serag HB, Sweet S, Winchester CC, Dent J. Update on the epidemiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. Gut 2014; 63(6):871–880. 

2

Voutilainen M, Sipponen P, Mecklin JP, Juhola M, Färkkilä M.l. GERD: prevalence, clinical, endoscopic and histopathological findings in 1,128 consecutive patients referred for endoscopy due to dyspeptic and reflux symptoms. Digestion 2000;61:6–13. 

3

Vaezi M, Zehrai A, Yuksel E. Testing for refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease. ASGE Leading Edge. 2012;2(2):1–13. 

4

Nilsson M, Johnsen R, Ye W, Hveem K, Lagergren J. Obesity and estrogen as risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. JAMA. 2003;290(1):66–72.

5

Erridge S, Moussa OM, Ziprin P, et al. Risk of GERD-Related Disorders in Obese Patients on PPI Therapy: a Population Analysis. Obesity surgery. 2018;28(9):2796–2803.

6

Chak A, Lee T, Kinnard MF, et al. Familial aggregation of Barrett's oesophagus, oesophageal adenocarinoma, and oesophagogastric junctional adenocarcinoma in Caucasian adults. Gut. 2002;51(3):323–328.

7

Richter J, Pandolfino J, Vela M, et al. Utilization of wireless pH monitoring technologies: a summary of the proceedings from the esophageal diagnostic working group. Dis Esophagus. 2013;26(8):755–65.

8

Shaheen N, Falk G, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Barrett's Esophagus. Am J Gastroenterol. 2016:111(1):30–50.

9

Runge T, Abrams J, Shaheen N. Epidemiology of Barrett's Esophagus and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2015 June; 44(2):203–231.

10

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Esophageal Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/esoph.html Last accessed November 2, 2018.

11

Spechler S, Souza RF. Barrett’s Esophagus. N Engl J Med 2014; 371:836–45.