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GERD Has Major Impact on Primary Care Patients
For patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the effects of the condition are an everyday reality. A large European study revealed that GERD has a significant impact on the daily lives of patients managed in primary care sites.
Retrospective ANalysis of GERD (RANGE), an observational study, was conducted at 134 primary care facilities throughout 6 European countries. The random sample of patients enrolled in the study had consulted their primary care physician (PCP) at least once for GERD-related symptoms during a 4-month period. Participants attended a follow-up appointment with their respective PCPs and filled out questionnaires. In addition, data from medical records were collected on demographics, GERD history, its diagnostic workup, and therapy.
Of the patients interviewed for the study, 35% had consulted with their PCP due to recurrence of GERD symptoms after a period of remission. Sleep disturbance was identified as the most common GERD symptom across all countries, in terms of extraesophageal symptoms.
Acupuncture Pins Down Indigestion for Pregnant Women
The myriad discomforts associated with pregnancy are not all necessary evils. In the case of dyspepsia, the results of a recent study showed that acupuncture may provide relief for pregnant women.
The study enrolled conventionally treated pregnant women, who were randomized to be treated with acupuncture or be part of the control group. All participants reported their symptom severity and the negative impact these symptoms were having on their daily life through the use of a numerical rating scale.
The women who underwent acupuncture saw sizable improvements in their dyspepsia symptoms, also finding themselves able to maintain the positive progress while lessening medication use. In addition, the researchers reported fewer disruptions to eating and sleeping due to indigestion in the women treated with acupuncture.
Reflux Esophagitis Sees No Color
Filling a void of information regarding reflux esophagitis frequency among different ethnic groups, researchers found that the condition and its complications occur at similar rates in non-Hispanic whites and African Americans. Barrett’s esophagus was the exception to the equivalence in gastroesophageal reflux disease complications, with non-Hispanic whites seeing a greater prevalence of the condition.
A research team led by Kenneth Vega, MD, of the University of Florida Health Science Center in Jacksonville conducted a search of past patients in the endoscopy database at the university, identifying all cases of reflux esophagitis and its complications between January 1 and March 31, 2001. Of the 259 patients culled, 171 were non-Hispanic whites and 88 were African Americans. The study was published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology (June 21, 2009).
Among Other Harms to Heart, Tobacco Causes Heartburn, Too
For tobacco users who have not heard enough reasons to quit the killer habit, here is one more: it worsens gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, doing permanent damage to the digestive system. According to the National Heartburn Alliance (NHBA), the nicotine in tobacco impedes the lower esophageal sphincter from functioning properly by making it relax, allowing stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus. It also boosts the body’s manufacture of stomach acid.
Smoke inhaled from cigarettes and cigars harms the lining of the esophagus, adding to GERD discomfort. Tobacco use also decreases the body’s production of saliva, which helps to fight acid naturally by pushing it down as one swallows and serving as a mild neutralizer. This reduction in saliva makes the body take a longer period of time to clear the esophagus of acids, thereby creating a prime environment for damage to occur, NHBA officials state.
Although the group acknowledges a lack of conclusive evidence of the causal relationship between smoking and heartburn, an NHBA representative cites a majority of medical professionals who support claims regarding the connection.
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FAST FACT: Aside from the well-known symptom of heartburn, GERD symptoms can include a long-lasting sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, chest pain, asthma, and the sensation of a lump in the throat.