Donate to GERD Research, Patient Care and Education

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the muscular valve connecting the stomach to the esophagus does not work properly. In patients with GERD, stomach acid builds up into the esophagus when the lower esophageal sphincter opens without reason or fails to close. GERD differs from common acid reflux because it occurs more than two times a week.  Prolonged exposure of stomach acid to the esophagus can cause damage to the esophageal lining, resulting in health problems if left untreated. Specialists at Northwestern Medicine’s Digestive Health Center are on a mission to prevent, diagnose and treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and other disorders of the digestive tract. Your generous donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will enable these physicians and scientists to engage in groundbreaking research and to implement the most effective treatments for patients with GERD.

Frequent heartburn is the symptom most commonly experienced by people with GERD. Other symptoms frequently seen in patients with GERD include frequent burping, a dry cough, difficulty or pain when swallowing, a bitter taste in the mouth, and nausea or vomiting. GERD can even trigger asthma symptoms like breathing difficulties or a persistent cough. In general, symptoms of GERD tend to worsen after eating, bending or lying down.

While physician-scientists are still working to determine the exact cause of GERD, they have identified certain risk factors that raise the chances of developing the condition. These risk factors are:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

The early treatment of GERD is an essential part of helping a patient to avoid future complications, such as esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus and swallowing disorders. The physicians at Northwestern Medicine offer many treatments for GERD, and, aided by your donation Northwestern Memorial Foundation, they will be able to further develop methods of treating GERD. Physicians often suggest changes in lifestyle as the first form of treatment for GERD. These changes include:

  • Avoiding certain foods and drinks (spicy, fatty, caffeine, alcohol)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Eating small meals more frequently
  • Elevating the head of the bed
  • Avoiding lying down within three hours of eating

Medications including antacids, foaming blockers, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and prokinetics may be suggested if lifestyle changes fail to eliminate symptoms. When appropriate, a surgical procedure might be an option for a patient and his or her physician to consider.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Living with GERD is not easy. Day-to-day tasks become far more daunting when a person is experiencing constant discomfort due to the symptoms of GERD. Through your generous gift to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help to ensure that physician-scientists at Northwestern Medicine will continue to conduct breakthrough research and to deliver the very finest care to patients affected by GERD. Your kindness will make a very real difference in the lives of those suffering from GERD.

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