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GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as heartburn. They call it heartburn because it feels like it’s happening in your heart. It’s actually happening in your esophagus, but it feels like it’s right where your heart is, and many people end up having severe heartburn end up in the ER because they think they’re having a heart attack.
Some acid reflux symptoms or GERD are pain, epigastric pain, regurgitation, where you get this sour taste in your mouth, especially if you lie down after a meal. Substernal pain right underneath your sternum, or it can radiate into your arm and your shoulder, sometimes, the pain from acid reflux.
To get the 10% rating, you have to have two of these symptoms. Most people who suffer from GERD qualify because it’s very common to have at least two symptoms.
For 30%, you have to have all of those symptoms, plus you have to show a considerable impairment of health. Now considerable impairment of health is not well-defined by the VA, of course, like many things. If it’s affecting you to the point where you lose a little bit of weight, or you can’t eat certain things, or you can’t lay down and sleep well, things like that can be a significant effect on your health.
For 60%, you have to have all of those symptoms above, and you have to have severe impairment of health. Severe impairment of health could be beginning development of Barrett’s esophagus, which is an abnormal tissue growth in your esophagus that actually can lead to cancer. It’s a significant problem, and it can be caused by severe gastroesophageal reflux disease. Or a low blood count, you’re actually losing blood, chronically bleeding. You have blood that shows up in your stool, called melena. That shows that you have significant GERD problems that are causing you to lose blood in your gastrointestinal tract.