Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you have heartburn more than twice a week, a nagging dry cough, especially at night, or a chronic sore throat, you might have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Dr. Bruce Greenwald, a gastroenterologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, says that a weak valve between the stomach and esophagus allows stomach acid to come back into the esophagus, often causing heartburn.

Dr. Greenwald, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says that people with GERD should change their eating habits, such as avoiding large, high-fat meals or eating less than three hours before bedtime. He tells Karen Warmkessel that antacids might handle occasional heartburn, but people with more significant symptoms should see a doctor to find out if they need stronger medications to reduce the production of stomach acid.