Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where the stomach contents leak in reverse from the stomach into the esophagus (tube from the mouth to the stomach). This can aggravate the esophagus and cause heartburn and other symptoms.
When you eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. A ring of muscle fibers in the lower esophagus prevents swallowed food from returning up. These muscle fibers are called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
When this ring of muscle does not close all the way, stomach contents can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux might cause symptoms. Extreme stomach acids can also damage the lining of the esophagus.
The risk factors for reflux consist of:
- Use of alcohol (perhaps).
- Hiatal hernia (a condition where part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities).
- Smoking cigarettes.
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux can be caused or intensified by pregnancy. Symptoms can likewise be brought on by certain medications, such as:
- Anticholinergics (for example, seasickness medicine).
- Bronchodilators for asthma.
- Calcium channel blockers for hypertension.
- Dopamine-active drugs for Parkinson disease.
- Progestin for unusual menstrual bleeding or contraception.
- Sedatives for insomnia or stress and anxiety.
- Tricyclic antidepressants.
Talk with your healthcare service provider if you believe one of your medicines might be causing heartburn. Never alter or stop taking a medicine without first speaking with your company.
Almost everyone has heartburn once in a while. But heartburn is likewise the most typical symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), so talk with your doctor if:
- Your heartburn takes place 2 or more times a week.
- Your heartburn becomes worse.
- Your heartburn occurs during the night and wakes you from sleep.
- You’ve had heartburn once in a while, but for several years.
- You have trouble or pain when swallowing.
- Your pain or pain interferes with your day-to-day activities.
Symptoms and Characteristics of GERD
SignsSymptomsOverviewGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a typical disorder. Gastroesophageal describes the stomach and the esophagus. Reflux refers to the back-flow of acidic or non-acidic stomach contents into the esophagus. There is no known single reason for GERD. It happens when the esophageal defenses are overwhelmed by stomach contents that reflux into the esophagus.
A band of muscles at the junction of the stomach and esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) usually acts, in combination with the diaphragm, as a barrier to prevent reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. If that barrier is unwinded at inappropriate times or is otherwise jeopardized, reflux happens.
GERD is defined by symptoms and/or tissue damage that results from repeated or extended direct exposure of the lining of the esophagus to contents from the stomach. If tissue damage is present, the individual is stated to have esophagitis or erosive GERD. The existence of symptoms with no evident tissue damage is described as non-erosive GERD.
GERD symptoms are frequently consistent, such as chronic heartburn and regurgitation of acid. However sometimes there are no obvious symptoms, and the presence of GERD is revealed when complications become apparent.
Symptoms of GERD vary from individual to person. Most of people with GERD have mild symptoms, with no noticeable proof of tissue damage and little risk of establishing complications.
Periodic heartburn is a symptom that many individuals experience. If it takes place periodically just after a meal and less than as soon as weekly, it is likely a “benign” condition.
Heartburn that takes place more often than when a week, ends up being more severe, or takes place at night and wakes a person from sleep, may signify a more major condition and assessment with a doctor is encouraged. Even periodic heartburn– if it has occurred for a period of 5 years or more, or is associated with problem in swallowing– might signify a more major condition. People with long standing chronic heartburn are at greater risk for complications including stricture or a possibly pre-cancerous disease that includes a cellular change in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus.
Did you know – heartburn is not the only symptom of GERD
Chronic heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. Acid regurgitation (refluxed product into the mouth) is another common symptom. But many less typical symptoms besides heartburn might be associated with GERD. These may consist of:.
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing.
- Waterbrash (unexpected excess of saliva).
- Dysphagia (the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus).
- Chronic sore throat.
- Inflammation of the gums.
- Disintegration of the enamel of the teeth.
- Chronic irritation in the throat.
- Hoarseness in the early morning.
- A sour taste.
- Bad breath.
Chest pain may indicate acid reflux. Nevertheless, this sort of pain or pain need to prompt urgent medical evaluation. Possible heart disease must constantly be omitted first.
Relief of symptoms after a two-week trial therapy with a proton pump inhibitor (a prescription medication that prevents gastric acid secretion) is an indicator that GERD is the cause. This can likewise be confirmed with pH monitoring, which measures the level of acid refluxing into the esophagus and as high as the larynx.