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Quick Dose: How Can I Treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a condition in which the contents of the stomach flow into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, dry cough and/or sore throat — is a significant health problem in the United States. GERD impacts 20% of Americans, and can lead to more serious diseases like Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma, or cancer of the esophagus.

Treatment options include:

  • Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids
  • Prescription medications, such as proton pump inhibitors
  • Surgery, including a laparoscopic procedure called the LINX® procedure

Many people choose to self-treat with over-the-counter medications, but these medications just treat the acid, not the underlying problem. They neutralize the acid coming up from the stomach. Surgical management can help stop the reflux from occurring. If you’re experiencing frequent acid reflux, speak with your physician about whether surgery is an option.

Anthony Altimari, MD, general surgeon, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group