What is Gerd?

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It occurs when acid from your stomach moves backwards through your digestive system and ends up in the esophagus. Over time, this condition can lead to esophageal strictures, fistulas and stenosis.

Heartburn is not an uncommon occurrence. We have all eaten something that unsettled your stomach. Usually it is spicy foods but some people have different triggers. When heartburn occurs several times a week for a long period of time, the answer may be reflux disease.

Let’s turn our attention to the stomach. It is the first stop on a long journey for your food after you take a bite. Acid is produced in the stomach. It is as strong as hydrochloric acid and as corrosive. Sometimes, our partially digested meal will reflux, or move backwards through the esophageal sphincter. This opening is located between the esophagus and the stomach and will close as soon as your food has passed through.

It is that same acid that causes the burning in your esophagus when the sphincter opens and lets food back through. The lining of the stomach is suited to handle this strong acid but the lining of your esophagus is more delicate and will suffer ill effects over time if exposed to acid.

Anyone can experience heartburn and GERD, but there are certain activities that may advance the condition. If you smoke, carry extra weight, lie down after meals or have a tendency to overeat, you stand a good chance of developing acid reflux disease. So, how do you know if you have heartburn or GERD? As we said before, GERD is a case of chronic heartburn. The symptoms return more than once a week and are painful.

Many GERD sufferers exhibit symptoms like painful and difficult swallowing, heartburn and reflux. However, there are those who don’t show any of the typical symptoms even though they are still experiencing reflux.

Is there any help for GERD? Doctors try to treat the condition by lowering the amount of stomach acid produced when it comes into contact with food. Other treatments work by neutralizing the acid. These would be your antacids.

Doctors will also ask you to make lifestyle changes. Keeping a food diary can help you to identify your heartburn triggers so you can avoid them. Eat earlier in the evening so that your body has time to digest your food before bedtime.

Now you know a little more about gastroesophageal reflux disease and how it can affect your life. If you experience regular heartburn, ask your doctor about the possibility of GERD.