Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called GERD is a common medical condition affecting millions of Americans. It occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and other unpleasant symptoms. Many people – about 20% – in the United States suffer from GERD, which can affect their daily lives and quality of life. We all suffer from acid reflux from time to time. However, not many people know they have GERD, as they often dismiss it as heartburn. That’s why it’s important to know what GERD entails and what you should do if you suspect you’re suffering from it.
What Is GERD?
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic digestive disorder caused by the abnormal reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. People also refer to it as, chronic acid reflux. This occurs due to a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that normally prevents the backflow of stomach contents. Over time, the acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, which can lead to inflammation and damage. It is a common condition, and if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.
GERD vs. Acid Reflux vs. Heartburn
GERD, heartburn, and acid reflux are related conditions, but they are not exactly the same thing. Both heartburn and acid reflux are symptoms of GERD, but they’re not the same. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat, which is known as heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic condition in which acid reflux occurs more frequently and severely, leading to damage to the lining of the esophagus. In summary, acid reflux is the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, heartburn is the burning sensation caused by acid reflux, and GERD is a chronic disease caused by frequent and severe acid reflux. Now, we’ve established what GERD is and how it differs from acid reflux & heartburn. How you can recognize it? Let’s find out on the next page!