Health Information

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) / Heartburn

What is GERD?


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that is caused by gastric acid flowing from the stomach into the esophagus.

Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus, and reflux means to flow back or return. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the return of acidic stomach juices, or food and fluids, back up into the esophagus.

What causes GERD?

GERD is believed to be the result of condition called hiatal hernia, which affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The typical cause of heartburn is when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. The LES, a muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus, opens to let food in and closes to keep it in the stomach. When this muscle relaxes too often or for too long, acid refluxes back into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Other lifestyle contributors to GERD may include the following:
  • being overweight
  • overeating
  • consuming certain foods, such as citrus,?chocolate, fatty, and spicy foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen

    
Other medical causes of heartburn may include the following:
  • gastritis - an inflammation of the stomach lining.
  • ulcer disease

Treatment for GERD:

Specific treatment for GERD will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference