Post 9/11, many Ground Zero, Pentagon and Shanksville crash site first responders and lower Manhattan residents and workers experienced Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD). After several studies concluded that GERD could be triggered by the conditions at the attack and crash sites, the medical disorder was included in the list of presumptively covered conditions under the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) regulations.
GERD, often associated with acid reflux or heartburn, occurs when the content of your stomach flows back into your esophagus. The digestive juices that are mixed with the food you just ate or beverage you drank irritate the lining of your throat and stomach and cause such symptoms as the following:
- Sour taste
- Chest pain
- Burning in chest and throat
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Interference with swallowing
- Food regurgitation
More than just uncomfortable, GERD can lead to serious medical complications, including the following:
- Esophageal scar tissue formation
- Narrowing of the esophagus
- Esophageal ulcers
- Barrett’s esophagus
- Esophageal cancer
GERD may also interfere with your daily life by limiting the foods you can eat and by creating severe discomfort and pain. You may even find yourself avoiding social dinner situations or skipping meals altogether.
Researchers have determined that GERD may result from 9/11 events under these circumstances:
- Post 9/11 stress and anxiety — Stress takes a physical toll on the body, particularly on the digestive system. Chronic GERD may develop in relation to an anxiety disorder or depression.
- Cardiopulmonary disorders — Asthma and other lung diseases can trigger GERD. These types of cardiopulmonary disorders have been common in those exposed to the toxic conditions surrounding Ground Zero.
- Dust cloud — When the World Trade Center buildings collapsed, the resulting dust cloud spewed toxic chemicals across lower Manhattan. Those who were directly exposed to this cloud have been highly vulnerable to developing GERD.
If you were involved in rescue efforts at one of the terrorist attack locations or are a resident or worker who survived the attack, Barasch & McGarry can help you recover compensation from the VCF.