Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents move up into the esophagus. It is also called gastroesophageal reflux, or acid regurgitation.
If you have acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, you may experience a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which stomach acid flows into the esophagus with persistence and regularity.
The esophagus can also be called the food pipe or gullet, and is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
The acid in the esophagus causes heartburn and other symptoms, along with possible damage to the tissues.
A circular band of muscle at the end of your esophagus is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It relaxes when it works properly and it opens when you swallow. It then tightens and then closes again.
Acid reflux occurs when your LES is not tightening or closing properly. This allows digestive juices and other stomach content to rise up into your esophagus.
In short, GERD happens when the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus becomes weak, or opens when it is not supposed to.
GERD happens more frequently in those who are:
Overweight or obese, due to increased abdominal pressure
Pregnant, because of the same increased pressure
Taking certain medicines, including asthma medicines, blockers to the calcium channel, antihistamines, sedatives and antidepressants
Smoking, and exposure to second hand smoke
Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a diaphragm opening allows the top of the stomach to move up into the chest. This lowers esophageal sphincter pressure and increases GERD risk.
Heartburn is the main symptom of GERD.
Heartburn is a feeling of discomfort behind the breastbone as a burning sensation. It tends to get worse if the person lies down or bends over, as well as after eating food.
Not every person with GERD experiences heartburn, however, and there are other possible symptoms:
Nausea or vomiting
Breathing problems (chronic cough or asthma)
Difficulty in swallowing
Sour or bitter taste
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
There are several changes in lifestyle and home remedies that may help ease the symptoms of GERD.
Avoid foods and drinks which cause symptoms
Avoid putting on tight clothes
Chew gum after a meal
Avoid having to lie down after eating
Lose extra weight
Eat smaller meals
Use relaxation techniques
To Sum It Up
While GERD may limit daily activities and productivity, it is rarely life-threatening. Most people will find relief with an understanding of the causes and the proper treatment.