Chronic heartburn and acid reflux plagues millions of Americans. This is very different than the occasional heartburn that can be relieved by antacids. Frequent and often painful, it decreases quality of life and can be a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a condition that can cause or aggravate asthma59, and Barrett's esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.44
GERD is often caused by a hiatal hernia or a defective lower esophageal sphincter, which may not be effectively treated by medications and lifestyle changes. In some cases, patients who respond to proton pump inhibitors (which reduce the secretion of stomach acid) may be candidates for surgery to stop the chronic heartburn, and each year more than 100,000 people choose to have acid reflux (or antireflux) surgery.21
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