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.
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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.
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.