Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a long-term condition in which acid from the stomach flows up into the esophagus. Many people have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
For individuals who have GERD, stomach acid is often forced back up into the esophagus. This can happen more than twice a week. If this happens to you and you're experiencing symptoms, your doctor may diagnose it as GERD. GER is the regular, persistent, and long-term occurrence of GERD.
Acid-containing material moves up from your stomach and into your esophagus (called gastroesophageal reflux), causing a burning sensation in your chest. This is called GERD, or chronic reflux disease.
The queasiness, heartburn and hoarseness that you experience when your acid reflux is at its worst is caused by the lower esophageal sphincter not closing properly. This allows acid backwash to flow up through your esophagus into your throat and mouth, giving you a sour taste in the process.
Acid reflux is a common symptom that people experience during their life. It's completely normal to get occasional acid reflux and heartburn every once in a while. However, if you have acid reflux more than twice a week over the course of several weeks, constantly take heartburn medication but your symptoms keep coming back, you may have developed GERD. Your GERD should be treated by your healthcare provider for relief, and prevention of other more serious problems.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are two different things. Acid reflux is a normal process that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes or opens too much.
GERD is a more serious condition that can cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms. GERD occurs when the LES relaxes or opens too much and stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause other problems.
Symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, chest pain, sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation. Symptoms of GERD include all of the above plus coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see your doctor to get a diagnosis. Treatment for acid reflux may include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medication, or prescription medication. Treatment for GERD may include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, surgery, or a combination of these treatments.
The primary cause of GERD is thought to be a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscular ring that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus. Normally, the LES relaxes to allow food and liquids to flow from the stomach into the esophagus. Then, it contracts to prevent reflux of acidic stomach contents back into the esophagus.
In people with GERD, however, the LES either relaxes too often or does not close tightly enough. This allows stomach acid and other digestive juices to flow back up into the esophagus, where they can cause heartburn and other symptoms. Several factors may contribute to this muscle dysfunction, including:
- Hiatal Hernia: A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach protrudes through an opening in the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen). This can weaken the LES and allow acid reflux into the esophagus.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy can cause increased pressure on the LES due to the growing fetus. This can lead to relaxation of the LES and symptoms of GERD.
- Obesity: Obesity increases abdominal pressure, which can lead to relaxation of the LES and symptoms of GERD.
The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is frequent heartburn. Other symptoms include:
- Regurgitation: When undigested food and gastric juices ascend up the esophagus and into the mouth, it is called regurgitation.
Involuntary regurgitation is a typical sign of GERD and acid reflux in adults. Additionally, it might be a sign of the uncommon ruminating disorder. Regurgitation in infants throughout the first year of life is common.
- Trouble Swallowing: If you have trouble swallowing, it may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition where the contents of your stomach come back up into your esophagus. This can cause heartburn and other symptoms.
- Chest Pain: One symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is chest pain. This pain typically occurs after eating a large meal or drinking a lot of caffeine. The pain may feel like heartburn, but it can also be sharp and stabbing. GERD is a chronic condition that can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. If you experience chest pain, speak to your doctor to see if GERD is the cause.
- A sour taste in the Mouth: Sour taste in the mouth is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
If you have symptoms of GERD, it is important to discuss them with your doctor. GERD can be difficult to diagnose because it can mimic other conditions, such as heartburn.
There are a few key symptoms that may help your doctor diagnose GERD, including:
Heartburn: This is the most typical GERD symptom. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can be accompanied by a sour taste in the back of the throat or regurgitation (a feeling of acid or food coming back up into the throat or mouth).
This is the most common symptom of GERD. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can be accompanied by a sour taste in the back of the throat or regurgitation (a feeling of acid or food coming back up into the throat or mouth). Dyspepsia: This is a general term that refers to stomach discomfort. Symptoms may include bloating, belching, and nausea.
This is a general term that refers to stomach discomfort. Symptoms may include bloating, belching, and nausea. Chest pain:Chest pain that occurs with swallowing may be due to GERD. The pain may be sharp and stabbing or dull and achy. It may also radiate to the back, neck, jaw, or arms.
There are a variety of treatment options available for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The best course of treatment will be determined by your doctor based on the severity of your symptoms.
Mild GERD symptoms can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals. More severe symptoms may require medication or surgery.
Medications used to treat GERD include antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and H2 blockers. Antacids work to neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from heartburn within minutes. PPIs are more effective at reducing stomach acid and preventing heartburn but can take up to two weeks for full effect. H2 blockers work by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
Surgery is an option for people with severe GERD who do not respond to medications. The most common type of surgery is fundoplication, which involves wrapping part of the stomach around the lower esophagus to tighten the sphincter muscle and prevent acid reflux.
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