GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition where the opening between the stomach and the esophagus frequently opens up and allows food and stomach acid to move back up into the esophagus. Everybody experiences gastroesophageal reflux (GER) from time to time, but when it occurs frequently (twice a week or more) and causes disruption to daily life, it is classified as GERD.
Heartburn and acid indigestion are terms that refer to the pain that occurs when the acid splashes back up into the esophagus. Over time, GERD that is allowed to persist without treatment can cause complications such as damage and ulcers in the lining of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer is also a possibility.
In some people, an abnormality called a hiatal hernia can lead to the development of GERD. Other risk factors, however, can be managed in some cases. For example, smoking, obesity or being pregnant all increase your risk of GERD. There are also certain foods that are more likely to exacerbate the problem, such as spicy foods, tomato-based foods, garlic and onions, citrus, chocolate, fatty or fried foods and drinks with caffeine or alcohol in them.
Prevention and Treatment
Losing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding irritating foods are all steps you can take to lessen your risk of GERD or to help with treatment. You can also take simple steps to prevent GERD close to bedtime by elevating the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches, and by avoiding sleeping or lying down two to three hours after eating.
There are a number of medications that can help prevent it from occurring or actively treat the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. In situations where the GERD is more serious or if damage has begun to occur in the esophagus, surgery to repair or remove the damaged tissue may be an option for some.
SOURCES: National Institutes of Health: National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; Asthma and Immunology.
Analysis suggests, but doesn't prove, that these children were one-third more likely to see a doctor for asthma
Suggests long-term use of acid suppressors might open door to C. difficile and Campylobacter bacteria
Popular medications prescribed to reduce stomach acid and heartburn may up stroke risk, study finds.
Researchers concerned about high doses of meds like Nexium and Prilosec
Here are common symptoms
Ask questions about taking medication and making lifestyle changes
Prior research has also raised concerns about Nexium and heart health
But finding can't show whether drugs are directly responsible
Death rate from procedure lower than previously reported, study finds
Research finds association among users over age 75, but can't prove the medications cause memory problems
Study finds cola boosts effectiveness of Tarceva for patients who are also taking a heartburn medicine
While study can't prove cause-and-effect, increasing damage seen as dose rises
Try these at-home remedies
Could be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and treatments can help, expert says
Expert offers tips for avoiding heartburn this holiday
Medications used to treat acid reflux may increase kidney disease risk, new studies find.
Who should avoid them without a doctor's consent
Watch what you eat before bed
Heartburn is a primary characteristic
Common antacid may increase the risk of heart attack, new study finds.
But don't stop taking proton pump inhibitors based on this study, expert says
EMS workers join police, fire personnel still struggling with health problems, study finds
Drug used to ease chronic heartburn
Eat smaller meals more frequently
Reason for benefit unclear, more research is needed, study author says
Expert offers tips on reducing the post-meal discomfort
Study suggests class of meds upset healthy balance of bacteria in the gut
Too many patients unaware that timing is key to treatment, study finds
Most frequent heartburn sufferers aren't taking over-the-counter medications correctly, study finds
But store brands and generics of these OTC medications are much cheaper, researchers note
Doctors realized patient's mysterious symptoms resembled those of a character on the medical drama
Study finds sleeve gastrectomy often doesn't relieve acid reflux, and sometimes makes it worse
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), common condition involves backflow of stomach acid
But simple antacids appear to lower the risk, researchers report
Study found shedding pounds reduced GERD symptoms among overweight, obese patients
Factors to consider when using a proton pump inhibitor
Follow these suggestions to minimize symptoms
Study of U.S. veterans found many stay on drugs such as Prilosec for months, years without reevaluation
Study found device allowed some heartburn patients to stop taking medication
Study reinforces the link, and a new test might be better at spotting the problem, experts say
Women should not undergo routine screening, and many men don't need it either, according to American College of Physicians
Some advice if you tend to overindulge
Three small, early studies found the device helped for at least a year
Watch what and when you eat
Obesity, poor diet contribute to acid reflux, which is sometimes linked to the deadly disease
Inflammation of tissue lining the esophagus could be the cause, study says
After lifestyle changes, medication fail to relieve symptoms
Heartburn is a common sign
Study reveals extent of harm that GERD can cause in the mouth, but some preventive measures exist
Suggestions to help put out the fire