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Meet an Evens Advisor: Dr. Gil Weitzman

Image of Meet an Evens Advisor: Dr. Gil Weitzman
Image of Meet an Evens Advisor: Dr. Gil Weitzman

Pop quiz!

  1. How many Americans suffer from acid reflux?
  2. Which side is better for acid reflux sufferers to sleep on: left or right?
  3. Which of these foods can cause heartburn: carrots, potato chips, or tomato sauce?

Didn’t know you’d be taking an acid reflux quiz today? No worries! Dr. Gil Weitzman, Evens medical advisor and gastroenterologist, explains the answers to all of these questions and more in this interview.

Here’s everything you need to know about Gil, straight from the doctor’s mouth.

What‘s your educational background?

I‘m a graduate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed my training in gastroenterology and hepatology at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. I then spent a year as the chief medical resident for the Department of Medicine before starting my private gastroenterology practice in Manhattan.

How did you get interested in acid reflux?

Acid reflux is one of the most common conditions patients experience. Approximately 20% of all Americans suffer from acid reflux. More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and some studies have suggested that more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn each day. I became more personally interested in it after my father was diagnosed with gastroesophageal cancer, a byproduct of his long-term acid reflux.

What's the most interesting acid reflux fact?

There are too many interesting facts to mention all of them, but there are studies that show that a simple intervention such as sleeping on one’s left side or using a bed wedge helps prevent nocturnal acid reflux.

What's the most common question you hear about acid reflux? And how do you usually answer it?

People are very concerned about the safety of a class of medications for acid reflux called proton pump inhibitors, which includes esomeprazole (generic Nexium®), omeprazole (generic Prilosec®), and lansoprazole (generic Prevacid®). There are lots of press reports that these medications can cause osteoporosis, dementia, kidney damage, or even strokes. The studies that are being cited are relatively weak and have not been confirmed on follow-up analysis.

These medications are proven to be safe for the short term and, if necessary, can be safely used long-term with appropriate monitoring by a physician. If there is a good indication for starting the medicine and it helps prevent acid reflux symptoms, then I do not hesitate recommending this class of medications for symptom relief.

What advice would you give someone who's experiencing acid reflux?

There are many ways to treat and prevent symptoms of acid reflux. We know that many foods can contribute to acid reflux including fatty foods, fried foods, tomato sauce, citrus, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. It’s also the quantity of food and overeating as well as lying down after a meal which may promote acid reflux.

Lastly, there are numerous safe and affordable medications that people can try to treat acid reflux.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Esomeprazole and Omeprazole are oral medications used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD; acid reflux). Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these drugs: atazanavir, clopidogrel, nelfinavir, rifampin, rilpivirine, or St. John's wort. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away: headache, falling asleep, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, dry mouth, upset stomach. Full prescribing information for esomeprazole is available here. Full prescribing information for omeprazole is available here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: or call 1-800-FDA-1088.