For Immediate Release

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MILWAUKEE, WI (November 18, 2007) Most of us have felt it—burning pain that starts behind the lower breastbone and may even radiate up toward the neck. Heartburn is very common. In fact, two out of five people experience heartburn or acidregurgitation at least once a month. With so many people reaching for antacids, it’s no surprise that heartburn is often thought of as an uncomfortablebut normal part of life.

While an occasional episode of heartburn is usually nothing to worry about, frequent or persistent heartburn can be a sign of a more serious problem. Heartburn is the most common symptom of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In people with GERD, stomach acid repeatedly flows back (refluxes) into the food pipe, known as the esophagus. This frequent exposure to acidic stomach contents can irritate the lining of the esophagus. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.

"It is unfortunate that many people with chronic heartburn have no idea that it might indicate a serious disorder," says Nancy Norton, president of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). "Many develop complications that could have been prevented with proper treatment."

Know When It’s Time to See a Doctor

 If you have heartburn that  occurs more than once a week, becomes more severe or occurs at night and wakes you from sleep, it may be a sign of a more serious condition, and you should consider talking with a physician. Even occasional heartburn—if it has occurred for a period of five years or more or is associated with difficulty in swallowing—may indicate a problem.

People with long-standing, chronic heartburn are at greater risk for complications including erosive esophagitis (inflammation or ulcers in the esophagus), stricture (a narrowing of the esophagus caused by scarring) or a potentially precancerous disease that involves a cellular change in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus. The good news is that complications can usually be prevented with proper treatment.

To Learn More

For more information about heartburn, visit www.aboutgerd.org or call the toll-free IFFGD heartburn helpline at (888) 964-2001.

When Should You Talk With a Doctor?

Talk with your doctor if:

• Your heartburn occurs two or more times a week

• Your heartburn persists or becomes more severe

• Your heartburn occurs at night and wakes you from sleep

• You have had heartburn or reflux for five years or more

• You have difficulty or pain when swallowing

• Your discomfort or pain interferes with your daily activities.

These symptoms may indicate a condition more serious than simple heartburn.

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2014-1119 Persistent Heartburn May Be a Sign of GERD
2013-1106 15 Tips for GERD Awareness Week
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2016-0801 Learn the Facts About Gastroparesis
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2015-1123 Is it More than Simple Heartburn? Ask Your Doctor.
2015-7-30 Gastroparesis is a Hidden Medical Condition for Many
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2014-0225 IFFGD Research Grants to Study Gastroparesis
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2013-0412 IFFGD Presents 2013 Research Awards
2013-0401 Turning Attention to Returning Vets
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2012-0321 April is IBS Awareness Month: A Serious Issue for Veterans
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2011-0412 IFFGD Research Award Winners
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2010-0517 US House Resolution for IBS
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2007-1118 When Is Simple Heartburn Not So Simple?
2007-0718 Proposed FDA Funding Applauded
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2006-0202 IBS or Something Else
2006-0418 Natl Commission
2006-0321 Women's Health
2005-0412 IBS Awareness
2004-1125 Heartburn & Heartache
2004-0929 Norton Honored
2004-0408 IBS Medical Care
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2004-0101 IFFGD Conference
2003-0401 IFFGD Research Awards
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Our mission is to inform, assist and support people affected by gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

IFFGD works with patients, families, physicians, health care professionals, and others to broaden understanding about gastrointestinal disorders and support or encourage research.

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