What is GERD?
Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). GERD is a condition caused by stomach contents, including acid, repeatedly refluxing (coming up) into the esophagus. This causes irritation and other changes to the lining of the esophagus. If left untreated, GERD can result in complications such as inflammation of the esophageal lining, narrowing of the esophagus and esophageal cancer.
GERD is a lifetime disease. The severity of symptoms will usually increase over time. GERD can disrupt daily activities, be responsible for sleep disturbances as well as decrease work productivity. GERD can cause many other symptoms including chest pain, regurgitation, swallowing troubles, chronic cough, hoarseness or sore throat. Other symptoms may include: nausea, bad breath, vomiting, bloating, belching
and even sleep difficulties. Even when on medication and symptoms are not prevalent, acid reflux may be silently taking its toll.
Nearly everyone has suffered from heartburn after a spicy meal or during times of stress. Some people are affected frequently, from monthly to weekly to daily. Many have suffered for years without the benefit of a full evaluation.
GERD occurs when the valve located between the esophagus and the stomach malfunctions. This valve is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and should work as a one-way valve preventing stomach content from coming back up into the esophagus. In people with GERD, the malfunctioning valve allows stomach content to come back up, or reflux into the esophagus. This causes heartburn and/or other symptoms.
Could your symptoms be GERD?