Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus, while reflux means to flow back or return. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, stomach content, flows back into the esophagus or food pipe.
Causes. In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and stomach acids from flowing back into the esophagus. When the lower esophageal sphincter is weak or relaxes inappropriately, the stomach's contents flow up into the esophagus causing the occurrence of GERD.
Signs and Symptoms. The most common symptom of GERD is persistent heartburn also called acid reflux. Other signs and symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest sometimes spreading to yjr throat along with a sour taste in the mouth; chest pain; difficulty swallowing; dry cough; hoarseness or sore throat; regurgitation of food or sour liquid; sensation of a lump in the throat.
Diagnosis. You should seek an appointment with your doctor if you experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms. The doctor may then diagnose GERD by reviewing your symptoms and medical history. If your heartburn or other symptoms do not improve with lifestyle changes and medication, you may need further testing (e.g. endoscopy) as GERD may cause other problems like Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
Treatment. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease may include lifestyle changes such as changing your diet and avoiding foods and drinks that make your symptoms worse; taking medications such as antacids or prescription medicines that block acid production and heal the esophagus; and surgery if diet change and medications are not successful in treating GERD.