MILWAUKEE, Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Occasional heartburn is quite common, especially after eating large meals during the holiday season. But, not all heartburn is the same. It is important to distinguish simple, occasional heartburn from long-standing heartburn that keeps recurring. Frequent, worsening, or persistent heartburn signals that it's time to see your doctor or healthcare provider to receive an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment. An underlying condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could be the cause. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161114/438984LOGO GERD affects one in five or more adult men and women in the U.S. While the disease usually can be treated effectively, its symptoms often are unrecognized or misunderstood. GERD occurs when stomach contents flow back (reflux) into the food pipe (esophagus). Repeated reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus, cause uncomfortable symptoms, and possibly lead to complications such as tissue damage in the esophagus or difficulty swallowing. Most people with GERD have mild symptoms, with no visible evidence of tissue damage and little risk of developing complications. Chronic heartburn is the most frequently reported symptom. But, because heartburn is so common, it may be self-treated or ignored. But self-treatment may delay effective treatment. It is time to see a doctor if your heartburn:
persists or becomes more severe
happens at night and wakes you from sleep
occurs two or more times a week
has been occurring for five years or more, or
creates pain that interferes with daily activities.
Regurgitation (refluxed material into the mouth) is another common symptom of GERD. Other symptoms may occur, such as trouble swallowing, sore throat, or hoarseness in the morning. Sometimes there are no apparent symptoms, and the presence of GERD is not revealed until complications appear.