Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition that affects the ring of muscles that goes from your esophagus to your stomach. It can make it hard to swallow food. An important part of your body that helps keep food from getting stuck in your stomach is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Heartburn, or acid indigestion, may happen if you have it, so make sure you get it checked. Medics think that some people may have it because they have what’s called a “hiatal hernia.” Most of the time, you can improve your GERD symptoms by making changes to your diet and living habits. People may also need medicine or surgery.
Heartburn (acid indigestion) is the most common sign of GERD. In most cases, it feels like a burning pain in the back of the chest. The pain then moves up to your neck and throat. When food comes back into your mouth, it can taste acidic or bitter.
GERD is caused by a lot of acid reflux. When you swallow, a band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus relaxes to let food and liquid into your stomach. As soon as it does that, though, the sphincter shuts again.
Gastroesophageal is a term for the stomach and esophagus, which is what it means. Reflux means “flowing back” or coming back to the same place. GERD is when the food in your stomach moves up into your esophagus.
It opens up in normal digestion to let food into your stomach, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Then it closes to keep food and acidic stomach juices from coming back up into your esophagus, which can hurt. GERD happens when the LES is weak, or when it relaxes when it shouldn’t. This lets the stomach’s contents move up into the esophagus, so they can be eaten.
More than 60 million American adults have heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults, including many pregnant women, have heartburn every day, too. GERD in babies and children turns out to be more common than thought. It can make you vomit a lot, and make it happen over and over again. It can also make you cough and have other problems with your airways.
Other things that can make it more likely that you’ll have GERD include:
- Having a lot of weight or being fat
- The stomach doesn’t empty quickly (gastroparesis)
In addition, there are diseases of the connective tissue, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, or lupus.
If you already have acid reflux, things you eat and do could make it worse:
If you smoke, you can get lung cancer.
- Certain foods and drinks, like alcohol and chocolate.
- A lot of food
- Eating too soon before going to bed
- Certain medications, such as aspirin
Doral Health & Wellness is a multispecialty and primary care practice in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY. If you have stomach pain, trouble swallowing, or other problems with your gastrointestinal tract (GI), go to Doral Health & Wellness in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, for help. They provide a wide range of gastroenterology services to help you stay healthy and avoid unpleasant GI symptoms. You can call the office to set up an appointment, or you can book one online right now.