- What is GERD?
What is GERD?
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is caused by the reflux or "backup" of acid or other irritating stomach contents into the swallowing tube or esophagus, which can irritate the fragile lining of the esophagus, the throat, or even the breathing tubes and lungs.
Normally, the opening to your stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), stops the flow of acid into the esophagus. When it is weak or relaxes inappropriately, the sensitive lining of the esophagus is exposed to acid from the stomach. Heartburn or other symptoms of GERD may result. This problem can range from a mild occasional inconvenience to a severe debilitating problem. If left untreated acid reflux can damage the esophagus and cause ulcers or strictures, and may even lead to esophageal cancer.
Symptoms of GERD
Heartburn, a burning sensation usually starting behind the breastbone and frequently radiating towards the neck, is the most common symptom of GERD. Other symptoms include regurgitation of fluid or food into the throat or mouth, chest pain, difficulty swallowing food, chronic sore throat or cough, hoarseness, bitter taste in the mouth, difficulty sleeping when lying flat or after eating, or suddenly waking from sleep choking, coughing, or unable to breath adequately. Asthma, wheezing, or chronic bronchitis and even pneumonia and sleep apnea are also sometimes associated with or complicated by GERD.