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(NEWS CENTER) -- Diane Atwood of Catching Health shared that she has recently been diagnosed with GERD Tuesday. She had an endoscopy last week and confirmed her diagnosis of gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. She said she is not alone, about 30 million Americans have it.

There is a band of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. This band relaxes while eating so food and liquid can pass into the stomach. It is then supposed to close again so stomach acid doesn't flow back up into the esophagus (that is heartburn). If that muscle or valve doesn't work the way it should, acid is always backing up into the esophagus. If this continues, it is GERD.

GERD symptoms
· Burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to the throat
· Sour taste in the mouth
· Chest pain
· Difficulty swallowing
· Dry cough or Hoarseness or sore throat
· Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
· Sensation of a lump in the throat
· Nausea after eating

Atwood said that nearly everybody gets heartburn from time to time, but if the symptoms are severe or require over-the-counter medication more than twice a week, it is time to see a doctor.

GERD increases the risk of developing a condition called Barrett's esophagus which increases the risk of a type of esophageal cancer called adenocarcinona. In past three decades, the rate of this particular cancer has risen. One possible cause is that rates of obesity have also risen. Obesity is a risk factor for GERD and GERD is a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.

To hear more about Atwood's symptoms and health mission, visit her blog, CatchingHealth.com

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