Tis the season for overindulging on holiday feasts and treats.
And all that turkey, ham, candy and cookies can often lead to heartburn or acid reflux.
To help those suffering during the holidays and throughout the year, Northside Hospital-Forsyth will offer a free seminar on heartburn Tuesday night.
Through its Heartburn Treatment Center, the seminar will help participants identify the severity of their indigestion problems.
“Education is our goal for this seminar,” said Lynne Murray, nurse coordinator of the Heartburn Treatment Center.
Murray explained that people often underestimate the severity of their heartburn, which can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
“If someone only has heartburn from time to time, after eating specific foods that they know can trigger, then that’s probably just heartburn,” she said. “But if they have heartburn every day, without specific foods causing it, then they probably have GERD.”
At Tuesday’s seminar, Murray said participants can learn about the causes of the disease, common complaints from sufferers and available treatment options.
There will also be discussion about the difference in heartburn and cardiac problems, which can often have similar symptoms.
“We want to help answer a lot of those questions since many people can’t differentiate between GERD and cardiac chest pain,” Murray said.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease itself can be damaging to the digestive system. And if untreated, it can lead to cancerous conditions, Murray said.
“It’s very important for patients to follow up with specialists to get the best treatment,” she said.
The Heartburn Treatment Center is part of Northside’s gastrointestinal lab.
Murray said it has been helping patients with their indigestion issues for five years.
She said the center promotes education, conducts testing for heartburn and GERD sufferers, and helps them develop plans for the best treatment.
Murray said she conducts testing on about five to 10 patients per week in the center.
“There’s a lot of things we can help them with that can help them manage their conditions that don’t involve medications,” she said. “We can help them in terms of their lifestyles, eating habits and stress.”
Murray said she hopes to spread the word about the Heartburn Center.
“We get referrals from specialists and surgeons, but since most people with heartburn are under the care of their general physicians, we would love to have more of them aware of our program,” she said.