Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) (cont.)
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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when stomach acid and juices back up, or reflux, into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. This occurs when the valve between the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) does not close tightly enough.
Most of the time, GERD happens when the valve relaxes at the wrong time and stays open too long. Normally, the valve is only open for a few seconds when you swallow. Some foods, like peppermint and chocolate, may relax the valve so it doesn't close tightly. Alcohol, tobacco, and some medicines can also relax the valve.
Some foods can make GERD worse. Avoiding them can help reduce heartburn. These include citrus fruits, fatty and fried foods, garlic and onions, spicy foods, and tomato-based foods like spaghetti sauce and pizza.
Other things can make stomach juices back up, such as:
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