Heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux seem to be much more common than they were a decade ago and according to the largest studies ever to examine the issue, weekly heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux have increased almost 50 percent over the past decade. Acid Reflux Disease or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). When this happens, it causes irritation to the esophagus, causing heartburn and other bothersome symptoms. The acid reflux study took place in Norway and evaluated approximately 30,000 people over an 11 year time span. Just over 11 percent of the people reported acid reflux symptoms at least once a week at the beginning of the study, and by the end, more than 17 percent reported suffering from symptoms weekly–a 47 percent jump. The study didn’t address why heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms increased, however, the study authors point to obesity as the most likely reason for the jump. The finding is very pertinent to the U.S. and other industrialized countries, as we face growing obesity rates.
What can you do if you suffer from acid reflux? Dr. Gregg Jossart says that the weight loss following bariatric surgery improves the symptoms of heart burn. Other than losing weight, some of the recommendations to improve symptoms of acid reflux are: try not to eat within 3 hours of bedtime, consume smaller meals more frequently and don’t overeat. Additionally, acid reflux sufferers should try to pinpoint personal triggers – perhaps chocolate, caffeine, or high-fat food–and avoid them. Smoking and consuming alcohol can also trigger symptoms and should be reduced or eliminated.