Saturday, November 22, 2014

Acid Reflux (GERD) and the Esophagus

Introduction


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which acids from the stomach flow back up into the esophagus (an action called reflux). Reflux occurs if the muscular actions of the lower esophagus or other protective mechanisms fail.

Heartburn Click the icon to see an animation about heartburn.

The hallmark symptoms of GERD are:

  • Heartburn: a burning sensation in the chest and throat.
  • Regurgitation: a sensation of acid backed up in the esophagus.

Although acid is a primary factor in damage caused by GERD, other products of the digestive tract, including pepsin and bile, can also be harmful.

Heartburn prevention
Heartburn is a condition in which the acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus, causing pain in the chest area. This reflux usually occurs because the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach is weakened. Remaining upright by standing or sitting up after eating a meal can help reduce the reflux that causes heartburn. Continuous irritation of the esophagus lining, as in severe gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a risk factor for developing esophageal cancer.

The Esophagus

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Review Date: 07/11/2010
Reviewed By: Reviewed by: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)