Gastroesophageal reflux: importance of paying attention to symptoms

In Latin America, between 12 and 31 out of every 100 people suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and adult patients, between 18 and 65 years old, suffer from the typical symptoms of the disease at least 2 times a week. In the United States, of the more than 60 million people who experience symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), it is estimated that 25% experience these discomforts daily. If these symptoms are not treated properly, they can cause complications and affect the patient’s quality of life.

For this reason, nearly 200 specialists from Latin America gathered at the most recent GastroForum, a scientific event aimed at updating doctors in the region on the innovations that will allow them to offer comprehensive care and better care to their GERD patients.

It is a chronic pathology that originates when food is returned from the stomach to the esophagus. Its main causes are associated with factors such as pregnancy, smoking, alcohol intake, the consumption of certain medications, obesity or being overweight.

As part of the event’s agenda, relevant topics were presented with important findings and recommendations for patients, among which the following stand out:

‘Evaluation of the patient with hoarseness and dysphonia and its relationship with GERD’. Findings are shown of how some patients have presented alterations in their voice; some of them severe; considerably affecting the larynx and pharynx. In addition, it invites us to consider the intensity of symptoms, the ability to make changes in lifestyle and the relevance of patients being able to understand their diagnosis and the steps to follow hand in hand with specialists.

‘Good practices in the management of overweight and obesity and its relationship with GERD’. Overweight and obesity have become a global challenge and Latin America is no exception, since according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), this region has the highest prevalence, reporting 62.5% of adults who are overweight or obese. In recent years, attempts have been made to construct the concept that obesity is not a risk factor, but rather a disease in itself.

That is why specialists recommend maintaining a healthy weight to achieve better control of the disease and even decrease between 5% and 10% of body weight in the first semester of treatment, as this helps to achieve better results for the patient. There is no universal exercise guideline, the ideal diet or the optimal pharmacological approach; each patient requires individualized management.

“We must educate patients about the importance of making lifestyle changes. Through a clear action plan, constant support from specialists, effort and awareness of why these changes must be applied in daily routines, an improvement in long-term health will be achieved”, explained Esteban Coto, Medical Director of AstraZeneca. for Central America and the Caribbean.

It is recommended to stop smoking, modify eating habits, avoid acidic foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee, spicy and high-fat foods, eat dinner 2 to 3 hours before going to sleep, elevate head in bed if symptoms worsen.