Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD )
GERD or acid reflux disease is a condition when the acid present in stomach starts flowing backward into the food pipe. As a results you might experience a wide variety of symptoms and can even affect your throat or cause respiratory disorders.
How GERD occurs:
- The esophagus is a narrow tube which carries food from mouth to stomach. At the lower end of esophagus, there is a sphincter which acts as a valve between stomach and esophagus.
- The main function of this lower esophageal sphincter is to prevent back flow or reflux of food contents and acid present in the stomach. When it does not function properly, stomach contents leak back into the esophagus.
- When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion or reflux.
- Occasional heartburn is quite common but it does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.
Talk to Your Doctor If:
- Heartburn happens twice or more in a week
- Heartburn is getting worse in intensity with time
- Heartburn happens at night and wakes you from sleep
- Heartburn has been now and then, but is persisting for several years
- Experiencing difficulty in swallowing foods or liquids
- Discomfort or pain interferes with the daily activities
Most people can manage the discomfort of this acid reflux disease with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications, or even surgery, to reduce symptoms.