Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal is pronounced gas-troh-i-sof-uh-jee-uh-l. 

Acid reflux is a very common condition, it is also known as heartburn, which is a symptom of acid reflux, referring to the burning pain or sensation in your chest area. Don’t get confused by this though, as the heart has nothing to do with it.

This article will explain to you what acid reflux really is, how to deal with it, what causes it and gets into detail about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and the treatment and diagnosis of it. 

Have a look at the questions section in the links above to find out anything more you might want to know. 

Understanding acid reflux

To understand what it is, it makes sense to first know what the word ‘reflux’ means. Reflux refers to the liquid flowing back or returning. In the case of acid reflux, the term refers to the return of stomach acid flowing back up through the food pipe.

The food pipe, medically known as the oesophagus, which is a pipe that starts from the back of the throat and ends when it joins the stomach below the diaphragm. Where the oesophagus joins the stomach there’s the lower oesophageal sphincter which is a muscular ring found in the digestive tract.

When you swallow food, your oesophageal sphincter opens to allow the food to pass through to the stomach and then closes to prevent the contents of the stomach coming back up, it works like a valve or rather a door for your food. When your oesophageal sphincter is damaged or weakened in some way, it does not close properly, therefore the stomach contents come back up, causing acid reflux.

The stomach contains hydrochloric acid which helps to break down food and protect you against harmful bacteria. It is important to keep in mind that the lining of the stomach is strong enough to protect itself from this acid, however, your oesophagus is not. 


What does Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) mean?

Recurrent acid reflux, often when it happens more than twice a week, is diagnosed as GERD, therefore it is a chronic disorder. GERD is seen in people of a variety of ages, children and infants also suffer from this. Recurring acid reflux often occurs during pregnancy.

As GERD is often the result of lifestyle factors, it can be treated through a change in diet and lifestyle. In some cases, however, it cannot be prevented and needs to be treated with medication.

NEXT What causes acid reflux (GERD)?

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