Nearly One In Three Adults Have Acid Reflux, Study Finds

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Woman With Her Hand on Her Throat Struggling with Acid Reflux

Image by Leandro Crespi / Stocksy

The painful symptoms of acid reflux are affecting more and more Americans in recent years. Despite the rise in the number of people with symptoms, there was little research to prove just how many actually had acid reflux and who was seeking treatment for it. A new study, though, revealed that nearly one-third of U.S. adults suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) weekly.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles conducted an online survey with 71,812 adult participants. Participants who experienced GERD (otherwise known as acid reflux) were asked to share how often they experienced it, how severe it was, and whether they took medication for their symptoms. 

Results, which were published in Gastroenterology, revealed that 44.1% of patients had a history of reflux symptoms, and 30.9% felt symptoms within the last week. More than one-third of them reported taking daily over-the-counter medications (called proton pump inhibitors) to reduce their symptoms, but 54.1% said the meds did not help. 

Proton pump inhibitors are supposed to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, but these findings suggest that they are not serving their purpose for all users. According to the study, young people, women, Latinos, and people suffering from other GI issues, like irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, were the least likely to benefit from the drugs. 

"Further research and development of new therapies are needed to help patients whose disease does not respond to proton-pump inhibitors," said author of the study Brennan Spiegel, M.D

What is GERD?

The digestive disorder occurs when a bundle of muscles at the end of the esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter) becomes too relaxed. This causes the contents of the stomach to travel back up into the throat. 

In severe cases, food can be regurgitated, but stomach acids are the primary offenders. These acids cause burning sensations in the throat and can sometimes damage gastrointestinal tissues. Most people also experience heartburn as a side effect. 

The study, according to Spiegel, was among the largest and most diverse studies on GI symptoms, meaning regardless of race, gender, or geography, the chance of experiencing symptoms of reflux are high. With this information, the need for effective treatments is highly important.

If you're suffering from any of these symptoms, consider these natural remedies

 

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