Allegheny Health Network

11/22/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/22/2021 09:02

GERD Awareness Week, Nov. 21-27, Highlights Need for Careful Holiday Eating

Monday, November 22, 2021

GERD Awareness Week, Nov. 21-27, Highlights Need for Careful Holiday Eating

PITTSBURGH, PA. - Thanksgiving is a time for family, fun, friends and food. For the millions of Americans who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) it can also be a struggle to enjoy the holiday meal while avoiding a painful attack of acid reflux.

GERD is a serious, chronic form of acid reflux, in which the contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus, or food pipe. The most common symptom is heartburn, a burning sensation in the throat and chest, and also coughing, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, a feeling of food being caught in the throat and vomiting.

"Thanksgiving week is also GERD Awareness week, and with good reason. On Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, people with GERD need to partake wisely of the bounty of food to avoid a painful attack that can ruin their celebration," said Blair Jobe, MD, director, AHN Esophageal Institute. "Some simple preventive steps can ensure that they enjoy their food while avoiding GERD symptoms."

Some tips on how to manage Thanksgiving eating:

· Fatty or acidic foods are known to provoke acid reflux. Avoid or limit your consumption of gravy, butter, or very rich, creamy casseroles or desserts. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, caffeine and cranberry sauce can also trigger attacks.

· Don't overeat. More than any single food item, overeating is the biggest trigger for an acid reflux attack. Try to focus on the social aspect of the holiday, not the food.

· Tempting as it is, try not to nap after the meal or sit in a chair for hours watching football. Staying upright aids digestion. Take a walk, or volunteer to help with cleanup.

· Restrict alcohol consumption to one glass of wine or beer. Alcohol can help trigger acid reflux, and can also lower inhibitions so that you eat more food than you had planned.

· If you're traveling take over-the-counter or prescription medications for acid reflux with you, just in case they are needed.

While an occasional attack of heartburn is no cause for worry, chronic GERD can be a risk, leading to a condition called Barrett's esophagus, in which the acid reflux over the years changes the cells in the lining of the esophagus and becomes a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

"Anyone who is experiencing acid reflux two or three times a week, or who is experiencing other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, coughing up blood, or over-the-counter medications no longer working, should see their doctor for an evaluation," Dr. Jobe said.

About AHN

Allegheny Health Network (, a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. Among the network's 300 clinical locations are 14 hospitals and five Health + Wellness Pavilions. AHN also is home to a comprehensive research institute; home- and community-based health services; and a group purchasing organization. The network employs more than 20,000 people and has more than 2,400 doctors on its medical staff. Established in 2013, AHN's member hospitals share legacies of charitable care that date back more than 160 years.