Women & GERD

The Facts

GERD is the fourth most prevalent gastrointestinal disease in the United States and occurs on a daily basis for 6 percent to 10 percent of adults, according to Massachusetts Medical Society's Journal Watch.

Characteristics

Women suffering from GERD may experience heartburn, regurgitation of gastric contents into the esophagus, chest pain, dysphagia, chronic cough, wheezing, adult asthma or pulmonary fibrosis.

Severity in Women

While the overall characteristics associated with GERD are similar in both men and women, there is a trend for a higher frequency of incidences and more severe symptoms among women.

Cause

Women with GERD may have an abnormally functioning valve that is located where the esophagus meets the stomach. The valve is responsible for preventing stomach contents from refluxing into the esophagus, according to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Treatment

Alterations in lifestyle, including weight loss, avoiding spicy foods and quitting smoking, are the first recommended treatments for women with GERD. Prescription medications may also be needed to suppress the production of stomach acid. While surgery is an option, only 5 percent of those with GERD require surgery to modify the valve between the esophagus and stomach, according to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.