Acid Reflux (GERD)
Acid Reflux (GERD) Overview
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the esophagus becomes irritated or inflamed because of acid backing up from the stomach. The esophagus or food pipe is the tube stretching from the throat to the stomach. When food is swallowed, it travels down the esophagus.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid after a meal to aid in the digestion of food.
Normally, a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, prevents reflux (or backing up) of acid.
GERD affects 25% to 40% of the adult population of the United States to some degree at some point. About 20% of adults experience GERD weekly or daily. Not just adults are affected; even infants and children can have GERD.
Acid Reflux (GERD) Causes
No one knows the exact cause of gastroesophageal reflux. The following are contributing factors that weaken or relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making reflux worse:
Hiatal hernia is a condition when the upper part of the stomach protrudes up above the diaphragm (the strong muscle that separates the organs of the chest from those of the abdomen).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
P John Simic, MD
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