Emirates Gastroenterology Society has revealed that the UAE is in the list of countries that are severely affected by the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The incidence of this disease has increased rapidly in the past few years.
Commenting on the reasons behind the spread of GERD in the UAE, Dr. Mariam Al Khatery, President of Emirates Gastroenterology Society, said: “The wrong lifestyles in the UAE such as eating oily and spicy food, have increased the incidence of this disease in the past few years. Moreover, obesity is one major reason for GERD complications, especially when it is compounded by lack of regular exercise and sedentary habits.”
“Many other diseases related to diabetes, heart, liver and kidney may lead indirectly to GERD, because they cause a delay in the digestion process, especially if the patient sleeps immediately after meals which can lead to reflux,” added Dr. Al Khatery.
“We need to create more awareness about GERD in the UAE. If GERD is not properly treated, it can lead to serious complications, such as inflammation of the oesophagus, narrowing of the oesophagus, ulcers and bleeding, along with chronic heartburn,” said Prof. Dr. Emad Al Rahmani, consultant in Gastroenterology and advanced therapeutic endoscopy at Gulf Diagnostic Center Hospital, Abu Dhabi.
“Oesophagitis is an inflammation and swelling of the oesophagus, it is most often caused by acid-containing stomach contents refluxing back up into the oesophagus which can lead to swallowing difficulties and can be one reason for both oesophageal and laryngeal cancer," added Dr. Al Rahmani.
“We are working hard on a daily basis to raise awareness of this rapidly increasing disease. The most important thing about medical awareness is to choose the right doctor once you have similar symptoms of closely related diseases”.
“Cancer can be one result of GERD complications because of the changes of the oesophageal lining in response to continued acid irritation of the oesophageal cells. Moreover, doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. However, there is strong association between GERD and oesophageal cancer,” added Dr. Al Rahmani
Oesophageal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the oesophagus and may cause difficulty swallowing, bleeding or anaemia. There is evidence that reducing the reflux episodes with certain medication may reduce the chance of oesophageal damage.
Heartburn symptoms can often be relieved if sufferers make some lifestyle changes. Many people can significantly reduce the occurrence of symptoms by avoiding heartburn triggers and behaviours that contribute to acid reflux flare-ups. With less acid reflux episodes by making the necessary lifestyle changes and keeping track of the heartburn triggers, there is less chance of esophageal damage.