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What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The most affected site of digestive tract is the lower esophageal sphincter; it is a muscular ring (sphincter) connecting the esophagus with stomach. The main function of the sphincter is to prevent food from moving out of the stomach and back into esophagus.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease ([GERD]/ heartburn) is very often used word to describe many digestive problems. Stomach acids reflux (or back up) from stomach into esophagus causes harsh, burning sensation in the area in between ribs or just below neck and may radiate through the chest and into neck and throat.

Reflux often occurs if the muscle where the esophagus meets the stomach doesn't close tight enough. A hiatal hernia aggravates GERD symptoms worse. It occurs when the stomach bulges through this opening into the chest.

Causes of GERD

GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux. The anatomy of esophagus sphincter is there is a muscle forming a circular band of around the bottom of esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into the stomach after swallowing. Then the sphincter closes again. When the sphincter relaxes abnormally or loses its tightness, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus. Reflux often occurs if the muscle where the esophagus meets the stomach doesn't close tight enough causing constant back wash of acid and irritating the lining of esophagus and leading it to inflame it.

Conditions that can increase the risk of GERD include:
  • 1)Obesity
  • 2)Moderate type of AcneBulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • 3)Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • 4)Delayed stomach emptying
Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:
  • 1)Smoking
  • 2)Eating large meals or eating late at night)
  • 3)Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods
  • 4)Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee
  • 5)Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

Symptoms of GERD

Common signs and symptoms of GERD include:
  • 1)Heart burn or a burning sensation in chest ,mainly after eating, which might be worse at night
  • 2)Difficulty swallowing
  • 3)Chest discomfort or pain
  • 4)Regurgitation of food or sour (acidic) liquid
  • 5)Sensation of a lump in throat or heavy sensation in chest
In case of nighttime acid reflux, the patient might also experience:
  • 1)Chronic cough
  • 2)New or worsening asthma
  • 3)Laryngitis
  • 4)Disrupted sleep
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