How much impact does weight have on heartburn / GERD?
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Dr. William F. BalistreriExcess weight can be a major contributing factor to these symptoms.
Dr. William F. BalistreriWhile the mechanism causing acid reflux manifests as heartburn or GERD may be multifactorial, there are multiple studies that indicate that even a few extra pounds can increase the risk.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThis can occur even without a body mass index in the obese range.
Dr. William F. BalistreriA study published in the New England Journal of Medicine documented that in adult women the risk and onset of symptoms of acid reflux correlated with an increasing body mass index.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThis can be of some significance since there are potential long-term consequences of persistent and severe acid reflux. These include esophageal ulceration and esophageal cancer.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThe mechanism by which excess weight exacerbates acid reflux is speculative. However, it seems logical to assume that there is increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by excess adipose tissue.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThe good news is that loss of excess weight can be an effective lifestyle change leading to relief of the symptoms of GERD.
Dr. William F. BalistreriThe bottom line—there is increasing concern related to the long-term effects of acid suppression via medications.
Dr. William F. BalistreriTherefore, lifestyle changes—weight loss, avoidance of reflux precipitants such as alcohol and caffeine and elevation of the head of the bed should be the first option for the management of gastroesophageal reflux.