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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a very common disorder. Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and the esophagus. Reflux refers to the back-flow of acidic or non-acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. There is no known single cause of GERD. It occurs when the esophageal defenses are overwhelmed by stomach contents that reflux into the esophagus.

A band of muscles at the junction of the stomach and esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) normally acts, in conjunction with the diaphragm, as a barrier to prevent reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. If that barrier is relaxed at inappropriate times or is otherwise compromised, reflux occurs.

GERD is characterized by symptoms and/or tissue damage that results from repeated or prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to contents from the stomach. If tissue damage is present, the individual is said to have esophagitis or erosive GERD. The presence of symptoms with no evident tissue damage is referred to as non-erosive GERD.

Did you know – heartburn is not the only symptom of GERD

Chronic heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. Acid regurgitation (refluxed material into the mouth) is another common symptom. But numerous less common symptoms other than heartburn may be associated with GERD. These may include:

Belching

Difficulty or pain when swallowing

Waterbrash (sudden excess of saliva)

Dysphagia

Chronic sore throat

Laryngitis

Inflammation of the gums

Erosion of the enamel of the teeth

Chronic irritation in the throat

Hoarseness in the morning

A sour taste

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