GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder. In this health disorder, stomach acid regularly leaks back into the esophagus (the tube connecting the neck to the stomach).

The lower esophageal sphincter, or a valve at the end of the esophagus, doesn't close correctly and allows stomach acid to flow back into your esophagus. The esophagus acts as a conduit for the acidic backwash to return to the mouth and throat.

Nearly everybody experiences acid reflux at some point in their lives. Occasional heartburn or acid reflux is very natural. However, GERD may have set in if acid reflux/heartburn occurs more than twice a week, despite regular use of heartburn medicines and antacids. Medical professionals are the ones who should treat your GERD.

What is Heartburn?

Acid reflux causes heartburn. The irritation of the esophageal lining by stomach acid causes a severe burning feeling in the center of the chest.

The sensation of burning is not limited to mealtimes. Many people experience increased heartburn as they lie down or recline, making it difficult to have a restful night's sleep.

Most cases of heartburn are treatable with OTC medications for acid indigestion and heartburn. You can also have stronger medications prescribed by your doctor to control your heartburn.

Chronic Acid Reflux

When the stomach splashes acid into the esophagus frequently, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the lining of the esophagus takes a beating. Anytime the tissue starts to deteriorate. Having acid reflux and heartburn regularly can make it difficult to eat and sleep.

If GERD makes your life uncomfortable, it's time to see a doctor. While GERD is not lifethreatening, the persistent inflammation it causes in the esophagus can lead to complications. You may require stronger prescription drugs or surgery to alleviate your symptoms.


Reflux of acidic or nonacidic stomach contents occurs frequently enough to induce GERD. The lower esophageal sphincter, a circular band of muscle at the base of the esophagus, relaxes during swallowing, allowing food and fluids to enter the stomach. The sphincter re-contracts at that point.

Acid from the stomach can go back into the esophagus if the sphincter doesn't relax properly or weakens. The continual flow of Acid back into the esophagus might irritate and inflame the lining of the organ.


Some of the most often experienced GERD symptoms are −

  • Pain felt in the center of the chest (heartburn), frequently following a meal and sometimes worse at bedtime or while recumbent

  • The regurgitation (backwash) of a meal or sour drink

  • Pain in the upper abdomen or chest

  • Achalasia: Difficulty in Swallowing (dysphagia)

  • The feeling of something stuck in your throat

  • Nighttime acid reflux can cause several additional symptoms

  • Continued hacking up of mucus

  • Vocal cord inflammation (laryngitis)

  • Asthma, either newly diagnosed or progressing

Risk Factors

Some medical issues might raise your chances of developing GERD −

  • Obesity

  • Abdominal distention that begins above the diaphragm and continues upward (hiatal hernia)

  • Pregnancy

  • Scleroderma and other connective tissue diseases

  • The inability to empty one's stomach quickly

  • There are a variety of causes that might make acid reflux worse, such as:

  • Smoking

  • Overeating or nighttime eating

  • Consumption of specific foods, known as "triggers," might trigger an episode.

  • Consuming libations and caffeinated drinks

  • Medications, such as aspirin, can help.


Your doctor may suggest the following tests to confirm the diagnosis of GERD or rule out any complications −

  • Colonoscopy of the Upper Digestive Tract − The doctor inserts a flexible, thin tube (endoscope) containing a light and camera down the patient's throat. The endoscope provides your doctor with a clear view of your digestive tract. Test results may or may not show the issue when Reflux is present. But an endoscopy can detect the inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) or other complications.

  • Barrett esophagus and other issues can be diagnosed with a biopsy during an endoscopy. If a constriction is detected in the esophagus, this technique may be used to dilate it. This procedure helps those who have problems swallowing (dysphagia).

  • Mobile pH probe Analysis − Acid from the stomach can reflux into the esophagus; thus, a sensor is implanted to record when and how long this occurs. The screen links to a handheld computer slung over the shoulder or carried on your belt.

  • You may have a tiny, flexible tube (catheter) inserted through your nostril and into your esophagus to serve as the monitor. Alternatively, an endoscopy may involve the insertion of a clip into the esophagus. After around two days, the clip will have passed through your system with your feces.

  • Upper Gastrointestinal X-ray − A gritty substance is ingested to coat and fill the inside lining of the digestive system before X-ray imaging. The coating provides a silhouette of your esophagus and stomach for your doctor to examine. Those who are experiencing difficulty swallowing can benefit greatly from this.

  • The doctor may also have you take a barium swallow test to see if your esophagus is too thin, which might cause difficulty swallowing.

  • The use of a Manometer in the Esophagus − The EMG analyses the regularity with which your esophageal muscles contract while swallowing. Your esophagus's muscular coordination and force can also be evaluated using manometry. People who have problems swallowing require this procedure.

  • Esophagoscopy Performed via the Nasal Passages − If your esophagus has been damaged, this test can detect it. A video camera is attached to a thin, flexible tube inserted into the nose and moved down the throat and into the esophagus. Images captured by the camera may be seen on a monitor.


Long-term esophageal inflammation can bring about these complications −

  • Eosinophilic esophagitis is inflammation of the esophageal lining (esophagitis). Tissue in the esophagus can be dissolved by stomach acid, leading to irritation, bleeding, and even an open sore (ulcer). Esophagitis can make swallowing uncomfortable or even painful.

  • Esophagus constriction (esophageal stricture). Scar tissue forms in the lower esophagus after Acid from the stomach causes damage to the lining. Scar tissue makes swallowing difficult because it narrows the airway that carries food to the stomach.

  • Esophageal precancerous alterations (Barrett's esophagus). The lining of the lower esophagus might undergo alterations due to acid damage. There is a correlation between these alterations and the development of esophageal cancer.