Men may be more likely to shrug off or downplay symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). That’s a mistake.
If you have frequent heartburn-more than twice weekly for several weeks in a row-the reason could be GERD, a condition that occurs when a muscle at the base of the esophagus malfunctions and allows stomach acid to enter. Heartburn, chest pain, nausea and other symptoms can disrupt life in a major way, but an Australian study found that men tend to ignore the signs and put off seeking medical help longer than women. Here’s why you shouldn’t delay consulting your physician if you suspect GERD:
- GERD can lead to a variety of complications. A change in the lining of the esophagus, Barrett’s esophagus is one complication that can be a precursor to a type of esophageal cancer. GERD can also cause a variety of respiratory problems, including asthma, pneumonia, laryngitis, hoarseness and a chronic cough. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent these problems.
- GERD can make life miserable. Who wants to live with symptoms that can disrupt sleep and cause daytime tiredness when treatment is available?
- Relief may come from changing your habits. For some people, making healthy lifestyle changes, such as avoiding spicy foods, not eating close to bedtime, quitting smoking and losing weight, is enough to manage GERD. In other cases, over-the-counter or prescription medications may be necessary. Surgery may be a good option if conservative treatments don’t control symptoms.
Check Your Health
With family, work and everything else you have going on in your life, your health may not always be top of mind. That’s why it’s especially important to have an annual checkup.
During your annual checkup, you can take stock of with a healthcare provider. This visit is your time to undergo important health screenings, discuss your risk for chronic medical conditions, learn about healthy lifestyle changes and find out where you stand on important indicators of health, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Don’t postpone or cancel an annual checkup just because you feel fine. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure often don’t cause symptoms, and without the screenings and insight you’ll receive during your visit, you might not find out there’s a problem until it’s advanced and difficult to treat. All of our centers offer various annual screenings as well as monitoring and management for chronic conditions, and no appointments are necessary.