What is GERD?

Susan Boyer

GERD is an acronym that stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD occurs when the protective mechanisms in the esophagus (the tube that runs from your mouth to your stomach) fail. The lower esophagus has a ring of muscle called the esophageal sphincter. This sphincter opens to allow food into the stomach when you swallow. When this sphincter fails, acid or other stomach contents make it back into the esophagus from the stomach. This back flow of acid is called reflux or heartburn. If it happens a few times, it's nothing to worry about. However, heartburn that occurs more than twice a week is probably GERD and treatment is needed.

GERD is a digestive disorder that is referred to by many names. You may have heard GERD called acid reflux disease, reflux disease, acid reflux, peptic esophagitis, reflux esophagitis, and chronic heartburn.

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