Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Acid reflux disease hits Americans hard

A jump in obesity may explain why about 60% experience occasional reflux symptoms. An array of medication may also be exacerbating the problem.  Today, approximately 60% experience occasional episodes of acid reflux, and about 25% deal with the problem on a weekly basis. The prevalence of the condition in North America is increasing by about 5% a year, according to a 2007 study in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

A report in January from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that more than 95,000 people in the U.S. were hospitalized with acid reflux as a primary diagnosis in 2005, up 4.5% from 1998. But the number of people hospitalized with reflux as either a primary or secondary diagnosis reached 3 million in 2005 -- an increase of 216% from 1998.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD or acid reflux, occurs when the small ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus weakens and allows stomach acid and food to back up, or reflux, into the esophagus after a meal. Common symptoms include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, an acidic taste in the mouth and nausea or vomiting.

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