Numerous veterans often inquire about claimable medical conditions, including “GERD – what is it?” In our recent focus on common diagnoses, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, has emerged as a significant concern. Among service members, GERD is on the rise as the condition tends to worsen over time.
Commencing as heartburn, GERD can lead to more severe complications, such as Esophageal Cancer, as the acidic content disrupts the normal functions of the esophagus. While this represents a worst-case scenario, it is essential not to leave it untreated. The VA acknowledges GERD as a disability, entitling you to compensation for this condition.
GERD arises from the malfunctioning of the upper sphincter flap, a small valve responsible for retaining stomach contents within the stomach. In GERD cases, this flap permits food and stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus, causing damage to its lining.
Symptoms of GERD To make a successful claim, it’s crucial to understand the symptoms associated with GERD. While most of us have experienced occasional heartburn and can relate to its discomfort, GERD entails several additional symptoms, including:
- Gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort
- Hiatal hernia
- Barrett’s Esophagus
- Esophageal cancer
Nighttime GERD, which occurs when lying horizontally, can lead to stomach contents settling in the esophagus, resulting in discomfort. These nighttime symptoms encompass:
- Coughing spells
- Sleep disturbances
- Breathing difficulties, potentially leading to asthma
- Severe chest and throat discomfort
Medical professionals can diagnose GERD through various tests, including stomach acid testing, x-rays, and monitoring your symptoms. If you experience any of these conditions, it’s crucial to seek medical treatment and consider lifestyle adjustments. Managing GERD may involve weight loss, exercise, dietary changes, smaller meals, smoking cessation, and elevating your chest at a 45-degree angle while sleeping.
Why Is GERD Prevalent Among Veterans? Now, let’s address a critical question: Why is GERD so prevalent among service members, and how is it linked to your enlistment? A significant contributing factor is the use of prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Many individuals have been advised to take pain relievers like ibuprofen and return to work, without addressing the underlying concerns. It’s likely that a substantial number of veterans have had medical conditions necessitating prolonged medication.
The extended use of medications is a leading cause of GERD. Stress, anxiety, the anticipation of demanding job requirements, and their connection to the job itself often contribute to GERD.
Please note that this is a brief overview of GERD, and it does not come from a trained medical professional. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s imperative to seek medical assistance and remain vigilant about receiving treatment. Additionally, consider reaching out to us to initiate the process of obtaining the support you require.